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Fashion Research Guide

Resources to help you when researching subjects related to fashion

How Do I Search?

Model walking a catwalk

Step One:

Take a look at the assignment or think about what you might  need for information. What information are you going to need?  Think about the elements that you have to discuss.

Step Two:

Conduct background research, first to help you focus on how you want to approach your topic if you have not decided. second, to get a sense of the conversation that already exists.  This will help you figure out how you can contribute to that conversation

In this background research, make note of any other terms that you see that related to your topic that you may not have thought of including synonyms, historical names, and technical terminology.  

Step Three:

Think about what you found in the first steps and develop keywords for each aspect of your topic.  Think of broader and narrower ideas and terms for those ideas, synonyms, historical terms, and possible cultural or technical terminology.  

Step Four:

Conduct some searches using keywords.  When searching, don't just look for results that work, but also make note of what you are seeing and what you are not seeing. This will help you modify your search. Try different combinations of your keywords. If you need help along the way make sure you contact your friendly librarian.  They are experts at locating information and love to help. 

Step Five:

Select your sources and make sure you know how to cite them in the required citation style.

Photo by James Price on Unsplash

Search Tutorials

Keyword tutorial                   Google tutorial start page

Search Tips

  • Be flexible with your topic and your approach to research.  

  • Make note of any synonyms or historical names used and try searching with those as well. Computers are literal, so a search for jeans will not get you results that discuss denim if it does not use the word jeans, this is why it is good to think of related terms and try those as well.

You will get a different set of results with the words fashion than you will with the word costume, apparel, garments, textiles, or fabric and depending on your topic, some if not all sets of results will be useful.

Here are just a few examples of related terms of garments that are known by several names to demonstrate how thinking of related words will help you search:




blue jeans

leg of mutton sleeves

gigot sleeves 

baseball caps 

snapback caps 

golf cap

bomber jackets

flight jackets 

  • Names of garments may change over time or across cultures. If you want to find information about that garment from a historical or cultural perspective, search using the name used at that time, or by that culture. This will get you more targeted results. 

Here are just a few examples of terms that have changed over time or by culture:









aloha shirt 

Hawaiian shirt 

  • Try using broader terms if you are not finding enough results, or narrower terms if you are not seeing any results that focus on the aspect you want to discuss.

  • Use quotation marks around multi-word names will get you better results. This will tell the search engine to look for those words together and in that order, otherwise it will look for each word individually and you will get many unrelated results. Examples:  "little black dress" "peter pan collar" "raglan sleeve"  "harem pants".