To accompany our podcast of the 1994 movie adaption of Little Women, here are some resources for mid-19th-century costume, specifically focusing on the American Civil War period in which the film is nominally set.
American Mid-Victorian Costume Books:
Fashions and Costumes from Godey’s Lady’s Book by Stella Blum — fashion plates were hugely influential in this era, and Godey’s was the leading American publisher. You can find many of these plates online, but this book still provides a good overview in one easy package.
Vintage Hats & Bonnets, 1770-1970: Identification & Values by Susan Langley — a great overview of headwear with tons of vintage examples.
My Likeness Taken: Daguerreian Portraits in America by Joan L. Severa — photographs show you what and how people really wore clothes, and these images date from exactly the time and place of Little Women.
American Mid-Victorian Costume Websites:
The Sewing Academy — Elizabeth Stewart Clark is a noted expert on Civil War-era American clothing study and reproduction, and her website offers patterns, books, blog posts, and an excellent forum, all filled with her knowledge and the knowledge of other researchers and reenactors.
Costume Institute Fashion Plates — again, fashion plates were one of the leading inspirations for fashions, and are a fabulous record of styles. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a huge collection of fashion plates available online.