Fashion plates were originally a way of illustrating current dress styles for consumers, dressmakers, and merchants. They were published in women’s magazines such as La Belle Assemblée, Journal des Modes, and the Magasin des Demoiselles. These periodicals were mostly weeklies that also included fiction and household hints along with the fashion plates. Since France was considered the center of fashion, both British and American periodicals contracted with French journals to republish their plates. Originally, the plates were engraved and hand colored with watercolors until the 1880s when color printing and chromolithographing became stylish. Fashion plates were popular until the 1920s when photography became the norm for fashion reporting.
This digital collection of fashion plates brings together two separate fashion plate collections in the Special Collections Research Center. The Little-Bower Fashion Plate collection (1798-1917, 1967, 2003) was assembled by Charlotte Northrup Little, preserved by her daughter, Charlotte Little Bower and donated by her granddaughter, Cynthia Bower Smith. The Nineteenth Century Fashion Plate collection (1836-1876) was donated by Henry Madden.
View this collection on the contributor's website.