For many years I have collected costume books and good ones are surprisingly hard to find. Here are a few pages from my favourite: Costume Cavalcade by Henny Harald Hansen (there's a name to be reckoned with!), with its one hundred gorgeous plates. One of the most important things that any illustrator can do is learn about costume and fabrics; how they hang and fall, how they fold, how they function in different eras. It's one thing to become an expert at life drawing, but how many children's books feature nudes?
Costume Cavalcade is falling apart, but it remains the most useful of all my costume books for the images have a delicious clarity. Those costumes from before the great era of fashion plates (the early nineteenth century) are taken from famous masterworks. See if you can spot a bit of Uccello, a snippet of Fragonard, a taste of The Book Of Hours. Other plates not shown have glorious costumes from Vermeer to Velazquez.
The Regency costumes were especially helpful when illustrating Rossini's La Cenerentola (Cinderella), which I gave a Mozartian/Rossinian setting.
The book's vintage (1950s) is revealed in the final plate, with Audrey Hepburn inspired figures (all very Roman Holiday), but I also find the Edwardian he-men and the bathing beauties irresistable!