|Sigismonda And The Heart Of Guiscardo by Moses Haughton|
|Woman Writing A Letter by Gerard ter Borch, c. 1655|
Be critical. It’s seems to be a default system that in every group there will be things seen as truths, something that everyone does and which is very easy to take for hard facts. Ask questions! If someone tells you this is the way to do it, the politely ask why, ask for sources. The same goes for blog posts and articles online, don’t just take the information for granted. So ask questions, but ask nicely. People are usually happy to share their sources, but don’t ask things like “Send me everything you know about XWY”. Get to know the basics of XWY on your own first. I don’t mind answering “I’m looking into XWY and I notice you say this or that about it and I wonder where you found that reference”, but I don’t have the time or inclination to do someone’s complete research. If you want to buy a period sewing pattern, do a little research on the pattern company to see what their patterns are based on and what kind of research has gone into the pattern. There are pattern review sites like The Great Pattern Review and a Facebook group; Costumer Pattern Review.
Read books. There are tons of good books out there, so a trip to the library can yield quite a lot. Most of us never get the chance to study extant garments, but luckily people like Janet Arnold, has done it for us. Such books give detailed description of extant garments, usually with photographs of it as well as period paintings that depicts similar clothes.
|Man Writing a Letter by Gabriël Metsu, 1664-66|
Read first hand sources online. There are several websites that scan original texts, saving you a trip to the library. For example; Google Books, Internet Archive and Project Gutenberg.
Read peer reviewed papers online. Well-researched papers and articles can be found at sites like Academia.edu. Some university libraries have free articles in their catalogues, though you will have to search for them.
|Theophila Palmer Reading Clarissa by Joshua Reynolds, 1771|
Browse museums online. More and more museums have their collections available and one can find both extant garments and period paintings there. A small warning when it comes to extant clothes; if you find something unusual, you may have found something unique, but it can also be due to something being re-made. For example, the Victorians were rather notorious in changing 18th century clothes for costume balls.
Pinterest. A bit of a quagmire, I know. If you pin yourself, try to find the original source of the pictures if you can. For example, if you find a pretty gown on Tumblr and it is originally found at Metropolitan Museum, jump to the Met before you pin. That way you can easily find the original information later. If you re-pin, take a gander on what the pinner says about the picture, it may not be the truth. For example, there is a pretty 17th century gown going round that is said to be an extant gown. However, if you go to the original source it becomes clear that the gown is actually made for a theatre production in the 1990’s. Pinterest is really good for sorting pictures as you can make as many albums you like.
And last; You will make mistakes. You will draw the wrong conclusions. It’s not a big deal, see it as part of the learning process and be happy that you have a knowledge bank that is constantly growing.
|Young Woman Reading a Letter by Jean Raoux|