Or maybe I should visit them more often, because look what I found today!
Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950 is the catalogue of an exhibition held by the Victoria & Albert Museum so it tends to be long on glossy photographs of the exhibits and short on text. (As an aside, the photographs are gorgeous indeed, and make me envious of those who live within easy travelling distance of the V&A. Here's hoping this exhibition eventually comes to Australia!) However the book does contain a couple of essays: "The magic circle: designing the ballgown" by Oriole Cullen and "Ballgowns: the rituals of dressing up" by Sonnett Stanfill as well as an introduction by Magdalene Keaney.
Just one small thing puzzles me about this book. Flicking through the plates I notice that most of the photographs are of gowns from the mid-1960s onwards. Surely the golden era of the formal ballgown was in the 1950s! However, this may reflect the V&A's collections as much as anything else.
The Ballgown: British Glamour Since 1950
London: V&A Publishing, 2012