Racinet's Full-Color Pictorial History of Western Costume

For those looking to get an idea of what clothing was like in Europe from around 800 to 1800, this book provides a reasonable full-color primer. It was originally created in the late 1800s by Albert Charles Auguste Racinet, a skilled painter. Now that it's out of copyright, it's reprinted by Dover.

When I first bought this in the late 1980s, there wasn't easy access to the web to see these images online. Now that the Internet has just about everything available, I still refer to this large-format full-color glossy book on my library. It's just easier to see the fine detail of the works in a nicely printed copy, and it means I can have the book right next to me while I'm working on a project.

My particular area of interest is the Middle Ages. There's a good collection of knights in armor, helmets, shields, chain mail detail, and more. There are religious folk of various types. Nobility and peasants. You get front and back views.

The illustrations here aren't nearly as detailed as in the fantastic "Historic Costume in Pictures" also by Dover. These here are more painterly, almost cartoon style, vs the highly detailed versions in the other book. So I'd definitely recommend having both to get a full image of what the costumes were like. Also, while there are some English outfits in here, the book leans heavily toward France and Italy. Sure, in many cases the fashions were quite similar, but it's always nice to see those regional distinctions.

There are a few pages of Scotland, Russia, and even cavalry, so there's some of a mix.

Well recommended as one of many books to have in one's library, if one is interested in the way people dressed during this time period. It's about 100 large-format pages, in full, glossy color.

Buy Racinet's Full-Color Pictorial History of Western Costume from Amazon.com

books about the Middle Ages and Medieval times


Medieval Romance Basics
Medieval Romance for Villagers
Medieval Romance for Nobles
Medieval Romance for Men
Medieval Romance for Women


Life in Medieval Days

Lisa's Medieval Romances
Seeking the Truth
Knowing Yourself
A Sense of Duty


Online Literary Magazines

Lisa Shea's Homepage