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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Costume Design: Getting started

A guide intended to aid students conduct library research related to costume design.

Where to Browse

In the library we arrange the print materials by subject.  If you're wanting to simply browse the shelves, this is where you'll need to be: 

Dewey Decimal: 

390 (for costume)

646 (for fashion)

Library of Congress: 

GT507 and GT510 (for fashion)

PN2067 (for costume design and history)

TT (for sewing, knitting etc. as a handicraft)

Important Note: 

Most of the GT507 and 510 materials are in the Undergraduate Library, though MPAL also has a few items. Most 646 material is in Main Stacks (Main Library). If you want particular items transferred over to MPAL we can often arrange this, so please ask.

Getting Started

If you're starting a costume research project and need ideas or inspiration, you may find it helpful to refer to this article:

  • King, Diana.  "Researching Costume." Performing Arts Resources (usually abbreviated PAR), vol. 27, pg. 237-246, 2010.

The whole of volume 27 is entitled "Documenting: Costume Design", and is likely to become a "go to" resource for costume design researchers.

You may also be interested in the bibliography of monograph titles included in the volume (pg. 265-270). 

U of I patrons can access the journal Performing Arts Resources  online or in print by visting MPAL's periodical section--periodicals are organized alphabetically by title.


If you're feeling lost, you're in luck because the library is a place to get help!  MPAL provides research assistance at the Reference Desk.  Please do not hesitate to ask questions.  Library staff can help with: 

  • Pointing you in the right direction
  • Finding specific materials
  • Exploring online journals and articles
  • Navigating the library
  • Research tips


Subject Headings

One of the ways you can limit your search results to a particular topic is to do a "subject" search.  Here are some subject headings to help you retrieve the most helpful resources from the catalog. 

  • Clothing and dress      
  • Clothing and dress--social aspects 
  • Costume  
  • Costume--pictorial works    
  • Costume designers 
  • Costume design--history
  • Costume design--20th century
  • Costume jewelry 
  • Design                 
  • Fashion         
  • Hats                  
  • Pattern books
  • Sewing   
  • Tailoring--Pattern design   
  • Textiles
  • Women fashion designers


There are many, many more!  Check out "Researching Costume Design" in Performing Arts Resources for a full list of subject headings for costume.