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Welcome to birmingham.gov.uk

Fashion, Costume and Body Decoration

Subject Areas Covered

To make it easier to locate material, the library uses the Dewey Classification system. This groups together subjects using a numbering system. The subject numbers for fashion and design are :-

391.1 Men's Costume
391.2 Women's Costume
391.3 Children's Costume
391.4 Accessories
391.5 Hair Styles
391.6 Personal Appearance (including Tattooing and Piercing)
391.7 Jewellery
391.8 History of Costume
646 Sewing Materials and Equipment
746.92 Fashion Design (including Fashion Designers)

harpers bazar illustration
Specialist Material

The Library has a great range of specialist collections. One that may be of interest is Exhibition Catalogues. The library has a comprehensive collection of catalogues covering art, photographic and design exhibitions. They can be a source of information that can not be located anywhere else.

Other sources of information include

Biography and Information Files Card Index - journals and newspapers articles are indexed for relevant articles.

Illustration Collection - this consists of illustrations obtained from journals and magazines collected together under subject. This collection is no longer added to.

Fashion Illustrations - taken from magazines of the 1800s.

Leaflets -Fashion Designers (which includes links to websites for individual fashion designers), Body Decoration, Tattooing and Piercing and First Impressions


As well as book material the section takes a range of journals covering a variety of subjects. The following are the fashion journals currently being taken.


Black Beauty and Hair
I-D Magazine

Libas International

Suggested Websites: Fashion and Costume

We have compiled a list of web-sites pertinent to the subjects. For reasons of space our choices are very selective. We believe the sites chosen will be useful, reflecting the questions regularly posed by our users.

The list cannot hope to be definitive. We will listen to what people have to say about the chosen sites. We will consider recommendations, and may phase out sites, which are not used or superseded.

Please note We are not responsible for the content of other organisations' websites.


Site linking history with corresponding changes in fashion. The site map includes information on clothes, accessories and beauty products.


Illustrations from Braun and Schneider's History of Costume 1861-1880.


Online costume site containing plenty of pictures and information on clothes through the ages. Includes patterns and a library.


The Costume Society of Great Britain. Aims to encourage access to costume history, including contemporary dress.


The Northern Society of Costume and Textile encourages the study and preservation of clothes and researching into history appertaining to origins and use.


Existing as a complement to Elle fashion magazine, in insider's style guide with a global outlook.


Web site of Vogue magazine. Includes details of the latest fashion shows.


Online fashion guide is up to date, with links to the top fashion shows.


Profiles on leading fashion designers plus interviews, articles and resources.


Site enables one to browse through online fashion magazines, fashion and designer sites, art and design schools.


History and methodology of mehandi body decoration. Includes photographs, drawings and downloadable designs.


Fashion, jewellery and accessory collections held by the Victoria and Albert Museum.


New York based fashion website. Search by name, season or label. Photographs are included from new collections.

You can use the online Library Catalogue to help you locate material. Some items published before 1973 or that are in the Collections may not be listed in the online catalogue.

As some items held in the store are valuable you will be asked to provide proof of your name and address. To consult certain particularly rare and valuable items you will need to book an appointment.

All our staff are pleased to help you with your enquiry which can be made in person, via telephone,fax, e-mail or letter. It is always advisable to contact us before you make a special journey.