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American Women: Resources from the General Collections

Fashion

Simplified sewing methods now being taught to thousands of American women through stores, pattern companies, and radio show how to assemble a pattern as Cynthia is doing. As they did in the last war, thousands of women are asking for sewing instructions. Streamlined methods make sewing quick and easy. To save fabric and time, size corrections are quickly made on paper before the goods is cut. 1943. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

You can trace variations in hair styles, makeup, accessories, hemlines, heel heights, and colors. Women wearing hats and gloves may tell us about the formality or modesty of an era. Images of women in illustrations, advertisements, and examples of undergarments reveal revisions in desired body shape over time—tiny waists, flat chests, long exposed legs, or cleavage. Material for clothing may vary with tariffs, rationing, or new technologies. Seasonal issues show how holidays were celebrated with decorations, food, and gifts. Maternity outfits may tell about views of pregnancy; children's clothing reflects shifts in concepts of childhood. Evidence for many kinds of history can be gleaned from these works.

Using the Library's online catalog, you can find information about periodicals on fashion and dressmaking held by the Library of Congress. The links below are canned browses, by subject, in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. These Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) can also be useful in locating materials at your local public or university library.

Browse subjects for fashion periodicals:

Selected Print Fashion Periodicals 

Using the Library's online catalog, you can find information about tailoring and pattern design held by the Library of Congress. The links below are canned browses, by subject, in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. These Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) can also be useful in locating materials at your local public or university library.

Narrower Terms:

Selected Pattern Design Resources 

The subscription resources marked with a padlock  are available to researchers on-site at the Library of Congress.  If you are unable to visit the Library, you may be able to access these resources through your local public or academic library.

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