This is the second in a series of the essential books in VFG member Maggie Muellner’s vintage fashion library. Her previous pick is here.
Dover put out Mary Brooks Picken’s A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion, Historic and Modern in 1999. It’s an unabridged republication of Picken’s Fashion Dictionary, originally published in 1957. This one covers more ground than Essential Terms of Fashion (reviewed here), both in breadth and depth. It is a true dictionary, but focuses on words associated with wearing apparel and accessories and their components. From “aal” (a red dye obtained from the root of an Indian shrub) to “Zulu cloth”, there are more than 10,000 entries and nearly 1,000 illustrations.
The entries include “groups”, similar to the focused chapters in Essential Terms, but covering a wider range – examples include “Lace, Weaves and Embroideries” in addition to the more obvious elements like “Sleeves, Collars and Necklines”. There’s a lot here for historical costumers as well as students of fashion like me.
The book does lack in fashion terms that came along after 1957. You won’t find any entries for mod, hippie or rockabilly. You’ll find entries for earlier designers like Chanel and Mainbocher but nothing on Halston, Mugler, or Versace. For those you will need more recently published books that delve into designers and fashion genres. If my book review posts turn out to be popular, we’ll get to some of those eventually. Stay tuned!
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