Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Medieval Costume and Fashion
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on April 19, 2000
Like his "Tudor Costume and Fashion," Herbert Norris's "Medieval Costume and Fashion" has wonderfully clear illustrations and virtually no attribution of illustrations or facts to sources. This volume does have the virtue of containing fewer irrelevant, discursive historical ramblings and of being more focused. However, I would still check Mr. Norris's assertions against Mary Houston, Stella Mary Newton, and other period and scholarly sources before accepting them.
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on October 1, 2003
This book is one of the medieval costume sources heavily influenced by the Victorian era. Norris' redrawings are changed quite a bit from the originals. He tends to base his thoughts off of the romanticized Victorian view of the middle ages rather than the actual middle ages. What he can't find from that, he just makes up. If you are looking for the "feel" of the middle ages in a halloween costume, this book will be fine. If you are interested in accuracy, you would be better to spend your money elsewhere.
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on July 10, 1999
Mr. Norris in his time created a groundbreaking resource for costumers. The original set of books was broken down into time periods, this reprint claims to be unabridged for the medieval period, however, just from an initial glance it would seem to me that some of the b/w hand drawn illustrations are not present in this reprint. I'd love to hear from someone with the original set of books to see if they agree with me. The Norris book set has been a staple resource in the SCA for years. Mr. Norris is great with the drawings but documentation of the original resources he drew from is often somewhat lacking. This is a book for the experienced costumer, he does nice layouts but they are not to scale so you must have a pretty good idea of shapes and cuts before you try to make anything pictured in here. He does an excellent job of showing trims and jewelry and shoes and accessories, for the price of this book it is fantastic but it should only be used as an addition to a resource showing original sources. Many thanks to the publisher for finally reprinting this excellent resource (now how about a hardback version for us hard core costumers that will kill this paperback in 6 months!)
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on April 24, 2003
Norris's book is a good place to start, but he writes with a heavy Victorian bias, and frequently makes a lot of the details up. It's a good basic overview, for costumes and such, but if you're looking for real, authentic, accuratey researched information, such as for the SCA, this is not a reliable source. Aside from accuracy, he completely ignores large sections of Europe - Italy, Scandinavia, Spain - and focuses on England, France, and Germany.
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on February 11, 2006
Several reviewers have reported Norris's work as containing many inaccuracies. Be that as it may (and I don't have the time or inclination to research this, especially given the dearth of available clothing from this period), this book is an excellent source of inspiration for the fantasy writer.

"Fashion" may be in its title, however the book contains far more than that - lots of interesting tidbits such as heraldic devices, horse "furniture" (saddlery), information on various guilds through the centuries, types of fabrics used, names of colours, shoe sole patterns and jewellery - as well as a brief history on each century and those in power. The list could go on.

The book is set out in chronological order, and looks at all classes, from royalty down to the poor. The emphasis on royalty and noble is greater, but that is to be expected since much of fashion flowed down from these people - and the lower classes certainly didn't wear such elaborate garments or ornamentation. There are two indexes: a general index and an index of names (though these are of course influential nobles and royals rather than their subjects).

So, IMHO, don't sit down to write your epic without this book to hand.
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on November 22, 2002
I was very disappointed when I ran across this book - although it looks like it has lots of really great and hard-to-find information, there are no sources credited for where the info came from, where the drawings are from or anything. Sadly that makes it useless to me in pursuit of replication of authentic medival clothing. If only the author had annotated it...
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on November 15, 2001
This is a book to use for the pictures when you've already done the research into the period you are intersed in. The drawings are detailed but the text can be vague and if you are trying to make acurate costumes I would not rely on this book alone but it is also a handy book to have
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on June 22, 2001
Norris has given us an amazing amount of information here. It's not just what people were wearing at the time; there are additional sections on heraldry, chivalry, the arts, and historical events. There are lots of line drawings (all modern drawings, not original medieval art) and a section of color plates (all modern as well, even a couple that look at first glance to be older).
There is so much more here for this time period than in many other costuming books that it's worth overlooking the book's main flaw, which is that Norris is not very good at giving us sources, and he sometimes seems to include things in his illustrations that can't be backed up in period documents.
Still, this is a wealth of information that any medieval costumer should enjoy, and as such it's a good value.
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on April 14, 2001
This one is a must have for those wishing to know more about the clothing of the medieval era. It is a great resource for costumers as well as those interested in learning about the history of fashion in this fascinating time. It is widely used in the SCA for both content and pictures, and for good reason. Unlike many of the books similar to this one, this book is readable. It contains more than enough pictures to satisfy those who are looking for new ideas for future outfits, but check with other resources for help with patterns and design.
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on January 1, 2002
This book is fine for getting an idea about what medieval costume looked like but don't plan to use it as a source for historical costume research. The illustrations in this book are redrawings and Norris doesn't even tell you where he originally copied the pictures from. Save your money.
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