Wednesday, December 12, 2012

1930s Fashion: The Definitive Sourcebook

To call a book the "definitive" anything is a pretty bold statement, and my expectations were high. But oh boy does this book deliver. We're talking about over 550 pages of fashion illustrations and period photographs from one of the most glamorous and sartorially sophisticated decades of the 20th century.

What always strikes me about 1930s fashion is the incredible innovative detailing - unusual seaming, wild sleeve shapes and almost limitless variation in collar styles - and the illustrations in this book provide a fantastical array of intriguing details.

The detailed introduction covers 30 pages alone, and gives an excellent overview of the principal fashion influences, in the historical context of the era. The rest of the book is divided into chapters for Daywear, Outerwear, Eveningwear, Accessories, and "Other", with a section for Selected Biographies (brief bios of significant characters on the 1930s fashion scene) at the back.

I thought it was slightly odd that the fashions aren't presented chronologically within the sections, as a logical progression would better illustrate the evolving fashion as the world moved steadily from the Wall Street Crash to World War II. But that said, it actually makes the book more fun to flick through in some ways, because it offers more variety with each page turn - this is more a book for browsing than reading from cover to cover, and I rather enjoy the random order.

The price tag of £30 might initially seem hefty, but when you consider the wealth of over 600 original images it really is a snip. I cannot emphasise enough the pure eye candy of this book. Definitely a must for anyone interested in 1930s fashion.

1930s Fashion: The Definitive Sourcebook is published by Goodman Fiell, RRP £30, out now.


  1. I'm rather fond of hefty tomes on subjects that are near and dear to my heart (and they don't come any more nearer and dearer for me than vintage fashion), and cannot wait until the marvelous day when (fingers crossed!) I can pick up a copy of this stellar sounding book, too.

    Thank you very much for the review - I'm delighted to know that it gets your nod of approval.

    ♥ Jessica

  2. Oh damn one more book to force into my book shelf! haha... and one more minus on my bank account.. oh well it's christmas;)

  3. I just got this book last week. It has some really beautiful illustrations. There is certainly a lot of fashion information.

  4. This book is on my list for Santa. Hopefully I've been good enough this year to find it under my tree.

  5. I've had this book on my amazon wishlist FOREVER. I'm so glad you reviewed it! It's moving to the top of the list :)


  6. I put this on my christmas list so am keeping my fingers crossed. It sounds fabulous.

  7. I have the 20's one and this is on my amazon wish list too! They also make me long for a private dressmaker.

  8. This book sounds like a treasure trove of ideas and inspiration! Hmmmm... I'll have to look into it...

  9. I'm so excited as i'm having this book for Christmas! If its anything like the 20's one I shall be pouring over it for hours. So inspiring.

  10. Thank you so much for the review! I hadn't heard of it, but I have been looking for good 30s inspirations and this one seems to do the job amazingly well. ; ) It's gone right up on my wishlist, now I'll just cross my fingers but honestly, I'm getting it myself if it's not beneth the Christmas tree =)

  11. I've been waiting for this book to be released in the USA, but no luck yet :(
    I do have the 1920s one and LOVE it!


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