Student Resources

Using Books For Fashion History Research
Tips by Lanajean Vecchione
When it comes to researching fashion history, the best places are still off-line. This is because fashions were mostly shown in paper form. This article offers quick tips for using books, magazines, and for upcoming school projects.

But why go through the trouble?
You do love fashion, don't you? There are other reasons as well. Fashion photography is protected under copyright and you wonąt find much of it on the internet. You will find awsome photography in magazines and in catalogs, and catalogs tell you what year merchandise was for sale and for what price, a goldmine! Books also tell you information in grater depth and with more accuracy than you will ever find on the internet, which means you will learn more. So here's how to excavate the good stuff from a place you'll learn to adore,

Love Your Library
But where do I begin?

Whether searching for a specific fact or some broader information, librarians save time and point you in the right direction. They help you see if there is enough information on a topic, or if you need to narrow down a search where there is too much information. If you are to spend any time looking for books it is good to visit a librarian. Even if you don't have a library card they can still help you. In my library they are smart enough to help you with searches for information on the internet. You can also search the card catalog. The card catalog is no longer a box of cards, often it is electronic, and some libraries let you access it at home using your computer. Ask your local library how to do a search for books using an electronic card catalog and your modem. Once you find the titles of fashion books, you can research on-line to see if anybody has done a review of them at to save time. You can also put a hold on books (if you have a library card) and have them waiting for you at the library within a span of two to ten days. Because of the wait, it is better not to wait until the last minute to do library research. For fashion books, it is best to know a little about the dewey decimel system. Fashion books share a common numerical code filing code. Books on costume and the dress are in the 391 section. Sometimes a decimal point will come after the 391 and this means it is a sub section of the same category. The librarian is the person who keeps all this code straight. Here are a couple of other places to look for fashion books in the library:

391 General books on fashion and the culture of dress.
796 Fashion Designer Biographies
973 Pop culture by decade, often containing fashion fads

By the way, any of these search tips can used in an online bookstore like, which also offers book reviews and lists quite a few out-of-print title. Their search engine is much like using a card catalog, only instead of using a number, you use a subject key word to search. Often it is better to use general keywords for search engines on-line, like sixties fashion, fashion history, hair fashions, etc, You can also searches by author, subject and exact title.

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