The foundation of this survey of historic costume is built upon the illustrations from two monumental nineteenth century studies of fashion: Albert Racinet’s Le Costume Historique (Librairie de Firmin-Didot, 1884) and Friedrich Hottenroth’s Trachten, Haus-, Feld-und Kriegsgeräthschaften der Völker alter und neuer Zeit (Verlag von Gustav Weise, 1888). Racinet’s work in particular has been mined for reference works before, most notably for The Historical Encyclopedia of Costume (Facts on File, 1988). On this occasion, the classic illustrations are happily matched with informed commentary from a team of seven museum curators and scholars of fashion and clothing history. The experts’ careful annotations of each drawing illuminate the purposes of particular types of clothing and evolution of world fashions. The guide is divided into two parts. The “grammar of costume” is a chronological survey of fashion from the ancient Near East through the mid nineteenth century. Despite significant excursions to China, South Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas, the chief emphasis is on Europe. From medieval times, the tour includes the divergent fashions of the major cultural areas of Western Europe, including Italy, France, Germany, Spain and England. Reflecting the original sources for illustrations, Eastern European and other ethnic traditions are relegated to a section on regional dress. The “elements of costume” examines particular articles of dress, such as skirts, sleeves, gowns, doublets and hose. Another section explores neck and headwear accessories as well as hairstyles. A glossary, brief bibliography and index round out a detailed but affordable introduction to historic costume.