Talk on Victorian Dress at History Group

Victorian dress of the middle and working classes”
Margo Singer

Margo Singer’s gave a great talk to the Chorlton History Group on 3rd April 2014 in which she looked at the development of fashion and textiles in the mid 19th century, especially with reference to Manchester and the novels of Elizabeth Gaskell

The talk looked at the development of corsets, crinolines and bustles and the changes in fabrics and dress due to both fashion and technical change (eg sewing machines, synthetic dyes).  Margo went on to show how these trends affected the dress of the urban classes in Manchester – from millworkers and seamstresses to the middle & upper classes.

Margo brought along samples items of clothing, textiles and reconstructed dress, for us to have a look at. It was interesting to note that whilst the last two history talks on trains & railways had a majority of men in the audience, for this talk the audience was overwhelmingly women

margot singer (01)

Margo introduction gave a background to Elizabeth Gaskell’s
world in the mid 19th centurymargot singer (02) margot singer (03)

A couple of the bonnets Margo brought along for us to look at. The bright colours of the bonnet on the right were made popular by the new dyes that became available with developments in artificial dyes. Margo suggested the more sober bonnet on the left might have been of the type worn by Elizabeth Gaskell, whilst the fancier one on the right might belong to a more fashionable upper class womanmargot singer (04)

Mary modelling a bonnet, whilst brother Tony admires itmargot singer (05)

Mary shows the bonnet to her mother, Rowenamargot singer (06)

Vicky model the ‘sensible’ bonnet,
whilst Mary tries on the flashier purple bonnetmargot singer (07) margot singer (08)A section of the (mainly female!) audience for the talk