The following books from the library reference collection provide a variety of resources for research on clothing and costume across various countries, cultures, and time periods. Many of them provide references for further research and so are an excellent place to begin one's research:
A Detroit-area site hosted by Wayne State University linking to the collections of several different institutions, with very rich photographic archives.
This website is a directory of costume history websites by period.
The Costume Page
A listing of costume and costuming-related links.
This meta site has a long list of quality websites about costume history.
Milieux: the Costume Site
Listing of sites pertaining to costumes, including Gothic and alternative fashion.
Finding primary source material regarding dress and costume usually requires finding contemporary images.
The main source of images is ARTstor . The ARTstor database contains high quality reproductions of paintings and artifacts, including fashion items. ARTstore provides a guide to its collections containing fashion-related images. You can also browse the Fashion, Costume and Jewelry classification which contains nearly 18,000 items. In addition there is a section on Decorative arts, utilitarian objects and interior design (115,000 items) and one for Architecture and city planning.
For the pre-photographic era, the chief source would be paintings, but beginning in the late 19th century the rise of the popular magazine and the incorporation of photography and sketch art in newspapers makes those a rich source of visual material illustrating period dress and decor.
Some very useful popular magazines are found in the AP2 and AP4 call number areas in the periodicals. Examples include:
Country life. AP 4 .C852
Holiday. AP2 .H592
Life. AP 2 .L547
New Yorker. AP 2 .N6763
Newsweek. AP 2 .N6772
Time. AP 2 .T37
In addition, the library has full-image access to the New York Times 1851-2009. Use the Page Map feature to scan full pages, click on a particular area to focus in on an image.
International Bibliography of Theatre & Dance has thousands of illustrated magazines as well as a large collection of images.
Meadow Brook Hall Historic Costume Collection is part of a WSU Digital Dress initiative to provide digital images of men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing and accessories representing fashion during a period of urban transformation (1800-2000).