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Starting points for research in drama

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Welcome to the world of researching costume design! Understanding what was worn in a specific time and place is essential to designing a show. This guide will help you get to know some of the most essential resources that you can use not only for this class, but also for other projects in the future.

Some essential online resources:

If you have questions, concerns, or want to proudly share how you just aced your research, contact the Research Librarian for Performing Arts, Scott Stone:

General Costume Design Resources

Try some of these SUBJECT searches to locate books on costume design, clothing throughout history, and other similar resources:

Clothing and Dress


Costume Design

Costume History

Dressmaking Pattern Design

A very select group of books on these topics are available below. If you look for these books on the shelves make sure you look at the items immediately surrounding them to find other books on the same topic!

The Tempest and Shakespeare

Books about costuming Shakespeare productions:

Books interpreting and historically placing The Tempest:

Plays Reacting to the Tempest

The Renaissance



Online Resources

Physical Resources 


Online Resources

Physical Resources

Moving beyond the Renaissance


  • Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion
    • ebook
    • 10 volumes. Each volume is dedicated to a different geographic areas (e.g., vol. 1 - Africa, vol.2 - Latin America and the Caribbean). Locate the volume that contains your geographic focus, open it, and then browse the table of contents. Generally they are arranged by culture and then chronologically within that culture. You can find tons of amazing information to get you started in many different places and times!!
  • ARTstor
    • image database
    • Do an advanced search and enter in a date range (make sure you are selecting the correct "CE" or "BCE" that is next to the date boxes!!) and choose a location using the geographic menu. Try not to be too specific if you are searching for time periods before 1900. For example, you might choose a fifty or hundred year range rather than just a single decade. Depending on how many results you get then decide if you need to narrow it down further.
  • Bloomsbury Fashion Central
    • text and image database
    • The link provided takes you to a list of over 100 ebooks focused solely on clothing and fashion. Scroll through the title list to see if any of them provoke a response in you. Interested in Bollywood clothing? There's a book that will help you learn more about it. How about goth clothing? There's a few books on that. Clothes to wear in space? There's even a book for that too!

There are many physical books available in UCI Libraries. Additional physical and electronic resources available on the Costume Design research page.