Tuesday, 19 August 2014

At the Fashion Museum: The Great War in Costume.

I've been to the Assembly Rooms in Bath. My last visit was a nostalgia trip to look at the Laura Ashley dress styles that I used to trip about in back in the day. But this time I went to see an exhibition of the type of clothing worn during the First World War. The first outfit to greet me was that of a suffragette.
It is easy to take for granted the freedoms that women now enjoy and to forget the frustrations and disempowerment that women of all classes experienced prior to the First World War.
I was fascinated to read about the reasoning behind their choice of clothing.
Fancy trying to be argumentative and disruptive in that hat!
When war was announced the suffragettes made a decision to stop campaigning and instead to put all their efforts into aiding the war effort.
Large hats with ostrich feathers gave way to practical outfits for whichever type of work they chose to do.

 But they all had rather enviable leather boots!

The Women's Auxiliary Corp. 

The Land Army.

The poster advertising for women to work in the munitions factories shows a clean, fresh-faced young woman. The reality of this work was very different. They were called 'canaries' not because they sang at work but because their skin became stained yellow from the TNT in the shells.
And you can imagine what that did to their health.

No elaborate corsetry was needed under such practical clothing.

Phew, that's more comfortable!
The central display was given over to clothing made for the 'Downton Abbey' series of the Great War period. These outfits were all beautifully made. Years ago I saw an exhibition of costumes made for the television series of Elizabeth the First. Those clothes were made up of bits of paper doily sprayed with gold paint. Nothing so shabby for Downton!
No expense spared!

 I wonder what her ladyship would think of today's fashions!
Looking at the costume for Lady Edith Crawley I have to say that the actress Laura Carmichael has the most enviable figure!

Lovely attention to detail.

What a fascinating way to spend a rainy afternoon!
Thank you to Bath and North East Somerset Council for such an excellent exhibition.


  1. What a interesting story! :)

  2. Hello Jorun, I've been over to look at your blog and now I'm wishing that I'd photographed the wedding dress that was on display at the exhibition. If I return I shall take a photo for you. I think I've featured my own wedding dress in an earlier post. I've still got it, although my arms no longer fit into the sleeves!

  3. It's a very frivolous thing to say, but I really love WW1 era fashions - the last few outfits pictured are wonderful. And, of course, the Fashion Museum is one of my favourite places to visit.

    1. I don't think it frivolous, it's interesting how fashion reflects its time. I'd happily wear the land girls' outfit!

    2. And I forgot to add, next time you plan to visit the Fashion Museum do let me know, it would be lovely to meet up.