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Fashion and Clothing History


"Rhapsody" by John Held for Stehli Silks, Victoria and Albert Museum

Researching the 1930s


Sorry, there's no section of the library devoted to 1930s fashion!  

Searching for fashion by a specific decade can be tricky because the same time period can be described several different ways and information about a decade may be found in several different sections of the library.  There is no one phrase that will bring back all the clothing of a decade so try a few different searches to see what works.  Here are some suggestions of searches to start with. Get creative and add some of your own!

1930s     Nineteen thirties     30s     30s fashion     Depression fashion

Here are some other tips for researching by a decade:

  • Search by designer, not designer by decade.  For example, if you were to search "Coco Chanel 30s" you would find zero books.  However if you were to search for just "Coco Chanel" then look through the many books we have on her, you would find plenty of her designs from the 1930s.  Because a designer's career can span decades, it's difficult to restrict a search to a specific designer AND a specific decade.
  • Search by type of clothing.  Looking for a 1930s wedding dress?  Instead of "1930s wedding dress" search for "wedding dress" then look through some of the books you find for images from the 1930s.  
  • Search by photographer.  Like designers, a photographers work may span many decades.  
  • Search by century.  A book that covers the entire 20th century may have a very good chapter on the 1930s with images you can't find anywhere else.

Recommended Books about 1930s Fashion

Magazines from the 1930s

Please note, some of our magazines are available digitally and some are only available in print in the Periodicals room on the 4th floor for in-library use. Visit our Periodicals LibGuide to see all of our periodicals by decade.

Harper's Bazaar

Harper's Bazaar

1930-Current. Monthly microfilm: November 1867-December 1923; January 1975-December 1976 The Harper's Bazaar Archive: November 2, 1867-Current (FIT username and password required for access) (Earlier Issues available in Special Collections) Leading American high fashion magazine.



November 1972; January 1980-Current. Monthly
 For the contemporary woman. Features articles on beauty, health, fashion and social issues

Vogue [American]

Vogue [American]

April -June 1927; Jan-Mar 1928; Jan 1933-Current (with gaps). Monthly Vogue Archive: all issues (FIT username and password required for access) (Earlier issues available in Special Collections) Widely-regarded as the most influential American fashion magazine; features articles and images by leading fashion critics, photographers, stylists, illustrators, designers and models

Life Magazine

Life Magazine

1936-1972 and 1978-2000

Life Magazine was the equivalent to the blog of the day.  Great source for news, pop culture,  the arts,  advertisements and photojournalism.

Archival Sources from the 1930s

     Schiaparelli 1930sFITDIL Digital Image Library

SPARC Digital     Andre Studios 1937-1938

Have a question or comment about these guides? Contact: