"I received a free copy of the book in exchange for writing a review"
I recently read a book called Forties and Fifties Fashion for the Stage by Jessica Parr which is packed with ideas, tips and styles from those two time periods. It guides you into the steps needed to perfectly create similar looking costumes, or even if you want to bring back some old trends since the classic styles always make a comeback! No matter what the need may be, the purpose of this book is to help stitch-up some look-alike costumes of the '40s and '50s.
When looking into this book, it is very well organized in a way that will guide the reader through the different styles of clothing for both men and women, even how to fake the look and get a close enough result that will fool anyone. So even if you can't find the same or exact style, you will know how to recreate or get something similar that can be made to look as close as possible. Imagine all those movies that you've watched, recently released that have classic clothing styles that are recreated for that film. It's quite interesting and really takes you back to that time period.
Of course, to get an exact look can be quite hard when no such style may still be around or easy to find. However, this book helps one sketch out the design, get an idea on the styles by real photographs and illustrations of women and men wearing them, such as Martin Luther King, Playwright William Saroyan, and even Jacques Fath, plus many more. There are also tips on altering the pattern before, based on measurements and after fitting. There are even patterns inside this book to help one develop the outfit needed for a specific costume.
The thing that caught my attention is that these photos are very useful, it's not a bunch of written information unless it is the parts guiding you. Though, in the beginning, it's a large collection of images, old black and white photographs with a few colored illustrations showing off the stylish fashion. Underneath each photo is a little caption with details of the photo, including the type of people pictured and some do mention the exact dates. No matter the information included, the photos are really an easy way to view what hat, skirt, top, pantsuit, dress, and many other garments are known to be a trend back then for everybody.
Now moving on to the alteration section of the book, well this is very useful, not only for costumes in this book but a great reference for all types of clothing patterns. This book can really help aid in creating the right fit for those who are going to wear an article of clothing and need it at a certain size. So no matter the changes that are needed, this book will help you get each to fit the body perfectly. In addition to this, I like that the author offers two ways to adjust the pattern. Sometimes the designer has only measurements to go by and other times, there is a person to go by while creating the right fitted pattern. Making the guidance inside this book useful for both options and even if using a muslin piece of fabric, stitched up to help create a final pattern before using the real fabric, well that is also inside this book.
After the design section and the one on alterations, you move towards the back where there are different clothing patterns. Each pattern is on separate pages right behind the outfit being explained. What I love about these patterns are that they are easily accessible and you have a full view of the clothing on a mannequin, in color before the patterns. There are many close-ups of the style and additional embellishments that make for an authentic '40s and '50s look. Plus, the captions including the details on the fabric, notions, seams, and ways the piece can be worn.
Finally, I'd like to mention that this is one of the best books on costume design based on past styles. It's really covering everything one must do to plan out the perfect outfit to fit and look the part. There are so many photos, which is wonderful and plenty of patterns to use. The additional guidance to reconstruct a pattern to fit one and many others, well this is something I am loving! It really is just a super helpful and extremely a well-needed guidance when designing a wardrobe of the '40s and '50s clothing.
About the Author:
Jessica Parr is a professor at the Northwestern State University of Louisiana where she teaches Costume Design and Technology. She received her BFA from the University of Nebraska and her MFA from the University of Illinois. She previously taught at Parkland College and the University of Louisiana – Monroe. She has designed and constructed costumes for theatres throughout the country, including Nebraska Repertory Theatre, Struthers Library Theatre, Dorset Theatre Festival, Barter Theatre, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and the Santa Fe Opera.
- Paperback Book
- Published May 21, 2018
- Reference - 310 Pages - 409 Color Illustrations
- ISBN 9781138657793 - CAT# Y325971
- Series: The Focal Press Costume Topics Series
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