You know, I was never a fan of YouTube until my brother introduced me to Caitlin Doughty’s Ask a Mortician channel last spring — right before Toronto went into lockdown. Fortunate as I am to have a reasonably pandemic-proof job that has kept me busy, I still got tired of watching Netflix and CBC all the time, so I decided to see what else YouTube had in store. And boy oh boy, what a store.
I’ve learned a LOT over the past year, and now I just don’t know how anyone learned anything before the interwebs. So, since far too many of us are still stuck at home watching videos in our day pyjamas, I thought I’d share some of my favourite creators. Today, we begin with people who know stuff about clothes.
Rachel Maksy is an artist/crafter/cosplayer, and her adorkably un-self-conscious sense of humour makes her one of my all-around favourite YouTubers. The channel originally focused on vintage styles from the 1940s and 1950s, but Rachel has been expanding her repertoire with more general sewing and cosplay content, including transforming your favourite pop-culture characters into vintage icons. She’s even made costumes for her dog, Frodo, who is a remarkably good sport about being dressed up for the camera.
If you prefer a more Victorian/Edwardian vibe with subtle snark, Bernadette Banner might be your new favourite BSFF (best sewing friend forever). She has worked in theatrical costuming, knows her stuff when it comes to nineteenth and early twentieth century clothes, and she’ll set you straight about why well-fitted corsets are not the devil’s underthings. She makes clothing using period appropriate methods and materials, but don’t get your knickers in a knot about “authenticity” unless you’re ready for a good talking-to.
After working for five years as a historical interpreter, Abby Cox knows a few things about eighteenth-century clothing. She’s happy to extol the historical virtue of using clothes to create a fashionable silhouette at any size versus the modern obsession with creating the “perfect” body, and she uses science to prove that all those layers are probably not as stiflingly hot as you think they are. Be sure to check out her videos on boobs and butts through the ages.
Nicole Rudolph appeared in a number of American Duchess videos but has since started her own channel. She’s actually trained in historical methods of making shoes and can teach you how to determine whether you’ve got yourself an actual pair of eighteenth century heels or a later reproduction. She also explores historical clothing more broadly and ventures into the world of historically accurate cosplays.
Morgan Donner covers a lot of historical ground, from the medieval and Renaissance periods to the Victorian era. One thing she does more than most of my faves is tackle historical head coverings and hairstyles, and even experiments with iron age hair pins. And just for fun, she tie-dyed an eighteenth century dress.
If you’re looking for more medieval content, I think you’ll enjoy watching Elin Abrahamsson. She focuses primarily on the mid-to-late middle ages, but some of her creations were inspired by later eras. She also experiments with plant dyes, and even tried growing her own woad to produce blues. (It was an olfactory adventure, to be sure.)
If you’re in the mood for more contemporary fashion and design, check out Zoe Hong. She explains fibres and fabrics, how to create fashion illustrations, and plus-size fashion design. Don’t worry — she also has a few videos on fashion history.