Fashion Hits and Misses from YA Historical Fiction Book Covers

I love historical fiction.  The drama, the intrigue and, oh– the fashion.  I just assume all the period details regarding clothing are accurate.  Or I did until my friend Liz shared it was her secret delight to troll the adult fiction section and find anachronistic apparel.  Curious to know how Liz knows all that she does about fashion?  Here her bio:

I have had an interest in fashion history since I was young.  My mother would take me to estate sales and auctions where I would buy vintage fashions with my allowance.  After graduating from high school I found I did not know exactly what I wanted to do and ended up going to Miami University for costume design.  While studying I found the thing I loved most about designing costumes was actually doing the research that went into the design.  After this discovery I finished up my Bachelor’s Degree at Miami and moved to New York City to study what I loved most.  I got my Master’s Degree in Costume Studies at New York University and have been working in museums since..  Being with the objects in such an intimate setting has allowed my passion to continue to grow and for me to learn more about every aspect of fashion and clothing construction.

Turns out a lot of books from specific dates and locations feature outfits as cover art that either haven’t been invented yet or were way out of fashion.  I was eager to know if these same mistakes were being made in Young Adult historical fiction. After all, how was I to know? Here are some examples of books that got it right and those that got it wrong.

Hit:  His Fair Assassin Trilogy. Grave Mercy (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults) and Dark Triumph (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults) by Robin LaFevers

his fair assassin
His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers

This series is set in Brittany in 1485.  Brittany is a region of North West France.  The book covers features the main character Ismae and Sybella. Both of these costumes are acceptable imitations of clothing found in 15th century France.  The v-neck style does appear to be more indicative of middle 15th century fashion instead of what you would find in the later half of the century. But because fashion didn’t change as fast at that time it would have still been common later in the century, especially for the masses.  Fashion was fairly limited at the time due to the production method and dyes used to make textiles.  Nicer textiles would have been astronomically expensive and impossible for commoners to own because of strict sumptuary laws that restricted the clothing that could be worn by different classes.  The hair, on the other hand, is very inaccurate as you can see from the comparisons below. Continue reading Fashion Hits and Misses from YA Historical Fiction Book Covers

Get Ready for Downton Abbey Season 4 With These Books

DowntonAbbeySince debuting in the UK three seasons ago, Downton Abbey has become a worldwide phenomenon. It combines great characters, a compelling plot and a fascinating historical setting to make for an addictive viewing experience that has captivated audiences of a wide range of nationalities and age groups. Now that Season 4 is about to start airing in the U.S., I know I am excited to see what is in store for all of my favorite residents of the Abbey. If you are like me and Downton Abbey has sparked your interest in the history of this time period more generally, get in the mood for Season 4 (or tide yourself over between episodes) with one of these books. Continue reading Get Ready for Downton Abbey Season 4 With These Books