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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Costume Design

A guide to Library resources on costume design, construction, and history.


Welcome Costume Designers! The Music & Performing Arts Library (MPAL) houses many materials and resources for theatre, directing, criticism, costume design, and more.

This guide is a tool to help you navigate the resources available to you for researching costume design. We hope it will help you become more comfortable doing research in the Library or online, as well as help you discover what resources are out there!

Use the tabs to the left to navigate the guide and see a sampling of the resources we have available.

If you're looking for more information beyond what's covered in this guide, check out our other theatre subject guides. We're highlighting a few related guides below that might be of use in your research.

Tips for Exploring the Collection

Browsing the shelves for materials related to your topic can be a great way to identify items that may be useful to you. If you find one or two items in the catalog that seem promising, look on the shelves at the items surrounding them.

If you want to read more about call numbers and how to decipher them, check our guide to Classification Systems. For search suggestions to browse the catalog, check out the next tab of this box!

Suggested Call Numbers:

  • Costume and Fashion: GT 500 - GT 2370
  • Costume Construction: TT500 - TT975
  • Costume Design and History: PN2067

Each item in the library catalog is assigned one or more subject heading to tell you what it is about. You can search by subject heading using the catalog's Advanced Search feature. 

To search by subject in the catalog:

  • Open the Library catalog and click on "Advanced Search" to the right of the search bar
  • Underneath "Search filters", you'll see that the default is set to "Any Field"
  • Click on the arrow next to "Any Field" and select "Subject" from the drop-down menu
  • Try a search with one of the subject headings recommended below
  • Once you've found a relevant book in the catalog, you can also use the subjects listed in the record to find additional related materials

 Here are some suggested 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

Looking Beyond MPAL

Although MPAL has many materials on costume design, it is not the only library on campus with relevant materials. Depending on your research interest, you may also want to browse material in the Main Stacks or the Ricker Library of Architecture and Art. As you're searching for material in the catalog, be sure to take note of an item's location so that you can go to the right campus library.