American fashion plates? Unthinkable.
Many American living historians look to fashion plates to help interpret the clothing of the 19th century, but before the late 1820s and early 1830s only European fashion plates existed. Although Americans did closely follow European styles, there is an entire ocean between the United States and Europe and a unique American identity. The Ladies’ Magazine and Literary Gazette and The Lady’s Book introduced American fashion engravings to their publications in the early 1830s. Many people do not realize that the two were separate publications before Louis Godey purchased The Ladies’ Magazine. The combination of the two magazines would later become Godey’s Lady’s Book, the most widely read ladies’ publication in the 19th century. The early fashion plates in both magazines were not numerous, often poor quality, and lacking descriptions, but they are American.
Our new fashion plate book for 1830-34 is now available for digital download.