Book reviews

The cut of women’s clothes

I recently picked up the book The cut of women’s clothes 1600-1930 by Norah Waugh from the library. It’s a total pattern geek/history buff read, packed full with pattern diagrams raging from the 1600’s to the 1920’s and also contains pretty through introductions to the styles, materials and assembly methods of each century. The thing that strikes me is how insanely elaborate the garments used to be, at least for the upper classes. No wonder they wore the same thing day in and day out. These clothes clearly cost a small fortune back in the days – a far cry from the jeans and t-shirt world we live in today. One dress in this book has four pages of pattern diagrams! It also makes it so clear what a revolutionary decade the 1920’s was, fashion wise. Even more so than the 60’s I think. It’s pretty fascinating to see how the heavily darted corseted looks suddenly turns into square simple shapes in the late 1910’s.

Janet Arnold has done similar books, that are also pretty impressive.


  • Nancy K
    June 1, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Does the book make any conclusions as to how the change in clothing came about? It's fascinating that the elaborate clothing of the 18th century became the simple basically shapeless clothing of the early 20th. this book is in English?

  • Johanna
    June 2, 2010 at 8:29 am

    >>Nancy: No it doesn't really, just notes that Poiret and some other designers started to simplify the shapes in the early 1900's. My guess is that the time was right, with all the modernity and industrialization that was happening in the society. We started to live rather different lives and for the first time clothes mass production was possible, hence the need for simpler shapes. And the book is in English!

  • melissa
    June 2, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    whoa! That's so cool that they show the pattern shapes for all of these. I bet this would be a goldmine for costume sewers!

  • David Hudson
    March 29, 2012 at 7:09 am

    Hey there 🙂 I just wanted to comment your wonderful blog here & say that I really like your blog layout and the way you write too. You make blogging look easy lol. I currently blog too but im not nearly as good as you are. anyways nice writing, cya later
    womens clothing suppliers

  • kyi
    April 25, 2018 at 1:15 pm


  • jarvis marketing agency
    July 6, 2022 at 8:52 am

    Thanks for sharing a fine content with us.


Leave a Reply