Here are a few chunks o’ fashion-related media I have been consuming recently, plus some resources from this very blog’s archive which may be of interest if you’re on the #newyearnewme train w.r.t. your wardrobe.
As usual, there are no affiliate or sponsored links.
Edit: oh my god I forgot to include the main link I started writing this post for in the first place! I love Zoe Hong’s channel and will never shut up about it. It’s primarily fashion illustration tutorials and tips helpful for people interested in entering the fashion industry, but my favorite videos of hers are the ones about the design process. She released a video yesterday talking through a process on how to design a modern and fresh collection from vintage inspiration. The photo was that OG Microsoft employee group photo from the late 1970s which I unironically enjoy as a source of fashion inspiration, so I was really into this video:
I came across this when browsing one of the local secondhand bookshops. It’s a reprint of pattern catalogues from throughout the Victorian era, one of which was The Ladies’ Standard Magazine (the book does not include any actual patterns). This was interesting because unlike most of the historical fashion images you see floating around Pinterest and Instagram, these were mostly middle class clothing (though of course the larger photos tended to be of grander pieces).
The catalogs are from a few decades apart so it really gives a taste of how varied the fashion of the long-ranging Victorian era was. Still, it’s really nuts to think how much more it changed in the same amount of time afterwards.
Though one of the more interesting bits included in the book was the article on women’s bicycle attire, since cycling was just starting to become a thing after the safety bicycle started overtaking the penny farthing. The gist of it seemed to be a collection of quotes from experienced female cyclists who all decided that bloomers were really the only way to go. I was surprised how progressive it was, all things considered (Ladies’ Standard was a magazine for housewives).
The ads were also pretty fun. Most of them are really similar to ones you see on the internet now, like “GRAY HAIRS NO MORE” or “MAKE $$$ WORKING FROM HOME”. With the exception of the ad for typewriters and what appears to be just straight-up arsenic.
Books: 19th Century Fashion in Detail and 20th Century Fashion in Detail – I picked these up at either The Met or the MOMA gift shop early last year and have been casually thumbing through them before bed. These are big ol’ coffee table books (even in paperback) with lots of juicy close-ups of (mostly fancy upper class) western garments in museum archives.
I enjoyed the 19th Century book more because it had a little more text to explain what was going on, so a bit more educational. The 20th century one was mostly just pictures, though it was fun to try and guess the decade of each item before checking the caption.
I do wish that these included at least a thumbnail photo of the entire garment in addition to the flats. Sometimes it’s a bit hard to transpose the super zoom onto the line drawings using only imagination. However the flats were still a neat part because it really draws attention to the basic design elements and silhouette of each piece.
If you simply enjoy looking at clothes, and want a bit of a fresh/old change of pace, these are fun books to browse through for visual enrichment. However they are not comprehensive history books.
Some pics from 19th Century Fashion in Detail:
Katie of the blog An Alaskan Weredork wrote a great guide breaking down a few different formulas for creating boho outfits. A “starter pack”, in the popular parlance. I always love reading this sort of sweet, sweet distillation of key ideas and visual elements which form the building blocks of a particular look. And Katie has such epic bohemian outfits it’s a real treat to be able to see what goes into them.
Power Mode: Force of Fashion exhibit at the Museum of FIT – If I lived in NYC I would go to every single one of their exhibits, but alas I do not, so instead I’ll be looking at photos. FIT is the Fashion Institute of Technology, one of the better known fashion programs in the US. This exhibit opened last month.
If we think of power in terms of kinetic force (for example, electrical power or a person’s physical power over another), clearly an inanimate item of clothing does not have actual power. The force of fashion is symbolic. It is social. It lies in the sphere of interpersonal relations and cultural dynamics. There is no single, universally accepted definition of power. Power means different things to different people at different times. As such, its connection to fashion is multifaceted, and a multifaceted approach is necessary for considering the role fashion plays in power dynamics both historically and today.The exhibition is organized into five thematic sections, each devoted to a particular type of sartorial “power.” In each section, men’s and women’s clothing are considered side by side, and pieces from as early as the eighteenth century are juxtaposed with looks from contemporary collections.
New Year’s Resolutions, Wardrobe Edition
Some previous posts, which are again topical.
Small tasks, big changes: 64 things to do to improve your wardrobe – looking for some actually specific things you can do to improve your closet contents and styling skills? Look no further! (Actually, always look further, learning more is good. But you are welcome to start here.)
Wardrobe Inventory and Outfit Logging Methods – The OG blog post, which is still like 90% of my site traffic. Pros and cons of various tracking methods, plus some free google spreadsheets and Airtable templates by yours truly.
Resources and Tips for Doing a Wardrobe Overhaul – What it says on the tin.
YouTube: Veritaseum on Why Most Resolutions Fail & How To Succeed – I’m not personally, like, Shia LaBeouf JUSTDOIT levels of hype over new years resolutions, but I am pretty goal oriented and new years is a logistically convenient time to refresh some goals. I really liked this video on how to realistically approach them, and I tried to incorporate the tips into my style resolutions for this year (read more at Year in Review 2019 for those). TLDR make em small, make em easy, and visibly track progress.