I love studying history. Whether it’s visiting a new history museum, looking through an antique store, or reading a history book, I just can’t get enough of the past. More specifically, I love cultural history. Military facts and war stats, meh. I am generally a pacifist and a war-averse sort of person, so military histories aren’t really my cup of tea. But, I can’t get enough facts on historical day-to-day life—what people used to eat, what they did for fun, and most importantly what they wore. I just adore learning about the history of fashion.
It’s kind of funny that I have such an affinity for historical fashion, because apart from dressing up for my yearly visits to the Renaissance Festival, my clothing is pretty utilitarian and boring. I’m not what you would call a fashionista. I wear shades of black and grey and tend to opt for comfort over style. But, historical fashion fascinates me. It’s interesting how the cultural landscape of a time dictated how fashion evolved.
I started researching notable times in fashion history and began creating some illustrations based on what I learned. I have only started the project, and I could see it evolving into something bigger, but for now it’s a small side project that I work on in between my larger projects.
I started with researching medieval styles. I was playing a medieval-themed video game at the time, and I was interested in the names of the articles of clothing that I had never heard before, like braies for instance i.e. medieval underpants.
After finishing that, while researching fashion history in general, I came upon information on the pivotal fashion styles of Edo Japan (1603 – 1868). The beautiful patterns and silhouettes of the outfits and hairstyles of that era were inspiring.
I posted these previous illustrations on Instagram and a friend requested I try my hand at some swimsuit fashions, specifically she wanted to see a swimsuit from the 1920s, when it was still scandalous to show off too much skin. I learned while researching this time that police would actually measure the swimsuits of women on the beach to ensure that they weren’t showing too much skin. Only about one hundred years ago, it was scandalous to wear anything so revealing. It’s weird to think how that really wasn’t all that long ago.
I loved creating the 1920s swimsuit, so I followed up with a swimsuit illustration from the 1950s and the 1970s (see below.)
So, I still haven’t even touched a lot of interesting times in fashion history. I will definitely keep working at this project. So many outfits, so little time!