Book Review: Clothing and Furnishings ~ Lord & Taylor 1881

Don’t forget that Patsy’s sweet blue dress ends this evening on Ebay..You can see it by clicking the picture at the right side bar or by clicking HERE.

My younger sister works at a library and she has first hand access to any books being discarded. She spotted this one and said she thought I might like it. The name of this book is “Clothing and Furnishings ~ Lord & Taylor 1881.” It’s done in the old pen and ink illustrated style, which is my favorite. Sometimes the actual photographs of the dresses are too hard to see the details, especially the darker colored ones, but these drawings are just perfect! You can really see all the lines and the buttons and the pleats and much more.


The book is a smaller sized book than what I normally have…being only 6″ x 9″ but there certainly is a lot packed in the 175 pages. It is a soft bound book but has a textured finish and feels very sturdy. It covers quite a few different areas…


My book has been sitting on the shelf for a VERY long time.. since 1977 in fact! It appears Linda Haag was the last person to check this one out. In fact, by looking at that library card, she may have been the ONLY person to have checked it out.


The book has illustrations of ladies wear, young girls wear, and some men and boys things too. It has very descriptive writing so you can imagine just how the dresses or laces felt. I’m glad to own this book. I haven’t read it from cover to cover, but I have looked through it and even though is it a time in history where no American Girls are living in, it still gives me lots of ideas for dresses. I can look at how buttons were placed or how pleats were added and especially how laces were used to trim…





Here’s a measuring chart too… pretty interesting…that the measurements are taken over the clothing… and not standing in a slip or something…




According to the back of the book, The American Historical Catalog Collection has a series of books from 1770 to the present, but I haven’t been able to locate any others.


Here are a few more pictures from the book…





The book is a nice one to have in my library but it’s a bit limiting because of the time period. I think I will mostly use it as a “look book” and copy ideas from it for my fancier dresses… maybe some Regency dresses and possibly Civil War ones…

Hope you enjoyed it…

See you tomorrow,
Blessings, Jeanne

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  1. Marilyn says:

    That book is full of really beautiful illustrations. Wouldn’t you love to see some of these garments in real life? I checked and found 14 used copies from $7.20 and one new one at $82.58. My search was “clothing and furnishings lord and taylor.” Searching under “american historical catalog collection,” I found some other catalogs, one about china and cut glass and also one about sporting goods. My conclusion, based on insufficient data, is that the American Historical Catalog Collection reproduced some catalogs on various topics — I had hoped for more costume catalogs, but I think you have the only relevant one and if there’s something similar, it’s not in this series.
    My favorite 19th century costume book is called The Fashionable Lady in the Nineteenth Century, available through and Amazon. Big drawback — no children’s costumes. I bought my copy new and not a year has gone by without my looking through it. It’s in paperback only and is about 9.5 x 7, 184 pages, published in 1969.
    As always, I have an idea of a great way for Jeanne to spend her time. Wouldn’t it be nice if she’d reproduce one of the 4 girls outfits above? I’m especially fond of the ones on the left side and would happily bid on either.

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Marilyn,
      YES…. I would LOVE to see some of these garments in person. I bet they would almost take your breath away!
      I didn’t do a very good job of searching for the book but I see you found a few copies…big price difference in the new and used ones, isn’t it? Wow!
      Those girls dresses caught my eye too Marilyn, so don’t be surprised if I try and tackle one…
      Thanks for all the work you went to in locating the books…
      Blessings, Jeanne

      • Marilyn says:

        You know, we’d need to see the dress new. After over 100 years, unless the museum did a really super job, the dress would be a little faded and limp — except at the Smithsonian First Ladies display, the dresses really are in pretty good shape. At the Bath costume museum, they tossed a real Jane Austen era dress at us. Hooks and eyes — lots of hooks and eyes on that dress.

        • Jeanne W says:

          HI Marilyn,
          New OR old… it still would be something to see these dresses and think of the ladies and young girls who wore them… it’s weird to think how lazy we dress now… jeans, tee shirts, hoodies, flip flops, tennis shoes. It was never like that for these women and girls. It’s just hard to imagine life like that… always so prim and proper!
          Thanks for the thoughts….
          Blessings, Jeanne

  2. How kind of you to let us view this “new” book with you, Jeanne. It IS fun to see how clothes of the past were made…so many details, huh? The dresses/clothing then were really works of art. Thanks for taking time to share it with us.


    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Becky,
      Yes, I’d have to agree with you about the dresses of this time period being works of art… and yes, the details were absolutely incredible!
      I’m so glad my sister found this book for me… It would be a good book to take on a trip and just read little snippets of it along the way…
      Thanks Becky,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  3. Karen D says:

    Oh wow!! What a wonderful book! I would love to see that wedding dress in person! And all those fancy fischus are amazing! The laces are beyond gorgeous! We just can’t get pretty laces any longer without ordering them from Europe for a high price.

    Your sister is keeping her eye out on interesting books for your (newly weeded out) library.

    Thanks for sharing such wonderful illustrations!

    • Jeanne W says:

      I know…isn’t that wedding dress just amazing? I love it and would love to have seen that in person! Laces are what I’m always telling my sister out in PA to look for… she runs across them every once in a while and they are vintage and sometimes dated to the Civil War era… right up my alley!
      I didn’t let Rebecca purge any of my books… they were off limits…
      Thank you Karen…
      Have a wonderful Sunday afternoon!
      Blessings, Jeanne

  4. I like the just past the knee length of the young girl dresses exposing the decorated stockings and cute boots.
    Thanks for sharing. Looks like Marilyn found some great priced copies of the book too.

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Joy,
      Yes, aren’t those young girls dresses just the prettiest things? Marilyn suggested I try and copy one… I might just have to give it a try… it’s all about finding the right fabric and laces for something like this…
      Thanks so much Joy,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  5. Dana Harris says:

    Hi, I am new to your blog, came across it accidentally yesterday and the “weeding out” caught my attention. Hhowever, what a fabulous book! I wonder if Sylvia MacNeal has it?! Since she does all that detailed sewing for her Chiffonette, those ‘infantine’ girls’ dresses should fit right in. I bet a lot of French Fashion dolls and repros would LOVE some of those dresses! Thanks for sharing, it is amazing how much more useful the line drawings are than other presentations. Also, I really look forward to reading more about your clearing out, great work!

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Dana and welcome to my little blog world… we are a friendly lot of readers so feel free to jump right in and post a comment whenever you like.
      Yes, I’m still weeding out but have to get some pictures of my fabrics listed and then sold before I can finish… no room to put anything as the fabric is all in tubs everywhere.
      I really like the drawings in this book and yes, you are so right, the line drawings are so much easier to see the details…
      If you keep reading, you’ll find out what the “finished” room will look like as soon as I get it all put back together…
      Thanks again Dana and have a wonderful Sunday afternoon,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  6. Linda Doyle says:

    I guess you are wondering where I am today, but I am just a bit late! So much to do outside and the weather has been great for doing that!

    Wow, those drawings are just magnificent! The dresses themselves are gorgeous, but the drawings certainly do take talent and patience, for sure! Can you imaging ironing and cleaning those outfits? Surely they were only for wealthy people who had servants to do that for them. I guess in that case, I would be wearing a much simpler dress, or maybe I would be the one washing and ironing them!! When you stop to think about it, they certainly didn’t have dry cleaners back then, so how did they clean the more expensive, fragile materials? And people didn’t take baths as often, and there was no air conditioning either! So glad I live today!!

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Linda,
      I should do a little research on all your questions as I don’t know the answers to them either, but I’m like you… thank goodness for air conditioning and irons and deodorant! :o)

      I’d be the one making the dresses, you’d be the one washing and ironing them and I don’t know who we can pick for the “wearer” of them… hmmmm…

      Thanks Linda…. glad you had a good day outside. It’s beautiful here too… just transplanted some plants in a pot.
      Blessings, Jeanne

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