1890s Fashions for Women (and an announcement)

Francois Courboin, In the Cabinet des Estampes (Bibliothèque Nationale), 1897. Image via wikimedia commons.
Francois Courboin, In the Cabinet des Estampes (Bibliothèque Nationale), 1897. Image via wikimedia commons.

In writing about the world of Concordia Wells, I have to make sure the lady professor and her colleagues are always suitably attired in the style of the day.

I use a variety of sources for descriptions and sketches of what these ladies wore during the Progressive Era. Two of my favorite books for research are the Sears, Roebuck & Co. Catalog of 1897 and Victorian Fashions & Costumes from Harper’s Bazar, 1867-1898.

1897 Sears Roebuck & Co. Catalogue

Other sources include newspaper advertisements from a search of Chronicling America (a digital archive of 19th century U.S. newspapers from the Library of Congress), and etiquette books of the period, such as Manners and Social Usages by Mrs. John Sherwood, an 1898 self-help book (yes, they had those way back then!), which I quote from extensively in book #5 (more about book #5 in a moment).

I also have to keep reminding myself not to overlook YouTube, which has a surprising collection of old film footage and picture montages. Below is one I think you’ll enjoy. If you want to skim (it’s a bit long), there’s a wedding dress at 5:12 and a series of bicycling outfits similar to what Concordia wears at 10:06.



Book 5 of the Concordia Wells Mysteries is complete and we have a cover! Official release day is Tuesday, November 1st. For those of you who have read the series from the beginning, book 5 comes full circle in several ways that I’m hoping you’ll find satisfying. Here’s a portion of the cover and the blurb:




A stolen blueprint, a dead body, and wedding bells….

Change is in the air at Hartford Women’s College in the fall of 1898. Renowned inventor Peter Sanbourne—working on Project Blue Arrow for the Navy—heads the school’s new engineering program, and literature professor Concordia Wells prepares to leave to marry David Bradley.

The new routine soon goes awry when a bludgeoned body—clutching a torn scrap of the only blueprint for Blue Arrow—is discovered on the property Concordia and David were planning to call home.

To unravel the mystery that stands between them and their new life together, Concordia must navigate deadly pranks, dark secrets, and long-simmering grudges that threaten to tear apart her beloved school and leave behind an unseemly trail of bodies.


I’m so excited and can’t wait for you all to read it! I’ll post the full cover reveal in my newsletter and here on the site when the links go live. I know you guys have been so patient(!) waiting for this next Concordia installment, and I really appreciate your loyalty.

If you don’t want to wait for November 1st, you can be one of my advance readers! I’m offering ten free advance review copies (ARCs) of the ebook version of  Beloved and Unseemly.

I love ARCs. Not only does the reader get a freebie ahead of time, but releasing the book “in the wild” may generate early reviews. Reviews then help prospective readers decide if this book is their cup of tea.

Please note: readers receiving ARCs are under no obligation whatsoever to rate the book or post a review. This is per Amazon reviewer policy and I agree wholeheartedly. If something is free, it should not have strings attached. (But if you do decide to rate/review the book, Concordia and I thank you very much!)

So, if you’d like an ARC, send me an email at: contact(at)kbowenmysteries(dot)com. Let me know what format you want: mobi (Kindle) or epub (Nook or iPad/iPhone). I will send them out to the first ten readers who ask. Thank you!

Until next time,


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12 thoughts on “1890s Fashions for Women (and an announcement)”

  1. Margot KinbergMargot Kinberg

    Such exciting news, Kathy!! I’m really happy for you! 🙂

  2. Jennifer JensenJennifer Jensen

    Ooh, can’t wait! (And yes, I’ve emailed. 🙂 )

  3. Kassandra LambKassandra Lamb

    Woohoo! Finally our patience (? LOL) pays off. Can’t wait to read it.

    Hubs and I have started watching Downton Abbey through Amazon Prime. I find the fashions quite fascinating.

  4. Gail MalaneGail Malane

    Great video !

  5. PatriciaPatricia

    Cool stuff. Love the video! Imagine how hot those women must have been all the time, all covered up like that. (As I sit here in my denim shorts and cotton tank top.)

    Thanks for sharing. Congratulations on the next book!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  6. Karen McFarlandKaren McFarland

    Yay! Congratulations Kathy! I love the blurb. This story line just keeps getting deeper and deeper. I am fascinated with Sears and Harper’s Bazaar. I don’t go back that far, but I do remember using the Sears catalogue…for a booster seat along with the phone book. lol. And J.C. Penney’s had one too. I did order from their catalogues, but the internet really did them in. But those were the days. 🙂


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