The primary reason I wanted to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum was because I heard about the amazing displays of fashion through the ages. There is a really great circular gallery with men’s and women’s clothing, and right now there is also an exhibit on wedding dresses, though that has an extra charge where the rest of the museum is free. It would be a great place to do research for costumes, both to get visual inspiration as well as great background info. My best pictures were mostly of dresses, but there are lots of great suits, boots and hats for the menfolk as well.
As part of my preparation for Steam Tour I picked up a great little reference volume by historian/geek Krista A. Ball. Hustlers, Harlots and Heroes: A Steampunk and Regency Fieldguide tells the story of the untold, the people who populate your Steampunk imaginings but are rarely the focal point. She brings you the inside scoop on the maids, footmen and even your friendly neighborhood knocker-upper (think alarm clock with a stick) to offer readers and writers a window into how the 99% really lived during the Regency and Victorian eras.
Ball’s first reference book, What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank, also sounds like a lot of fun, but so far I have only read Hustlers. Both books include recipes that you will want to make at home (and some like tooth paste made from cuttlefish that you’d never EVER want to try) in addition to some great background information and delicious tidbits to add depth and interest to your own Steampunk projects.
Let me know if you have any ideas for other reference books I should read before Steam Tour starts in August! I finally got a reliable internet connect here in Greece so I hope to go back to posting more often and letting you know all the amazing Steampunkery that is to come.