You wouldn't get much of a tan in one of these! Photo © Barry Duffield
Deal Maritime and Local History Museum in Kent is celebrating Britain’s rich nautical heritage in style with its new exhibition ‘Seaside Fashion from the Salter Collection’ which runs until July 30 2005.
As part of SeaBritain 2005, which marks the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar, the exhibition remembers how the seaside has been a magnet for tourists and holiday-makers for centuries.
The show features a selection of seaside attire from the 19th century from Doris Salter’s noted collection. She taught at the Rose Theatre School in London, and for many years displayed costumes in Deal and put on fashion shows.
The costumes themselves come from Deal and the surrounding area, and among the coastal creations are white muslin dresses from 1810, a working woman’s print dress, and sailor-style outfits – all about as far from today’s crochet bikinis as you can get.
The Maritime and Local History Museum is Deal's best kept secret. It also houses a collection of boats and lifeboats. Photo © Barry Duffield
Of course, no Victorian lady’s fabulous seaside look is complete without a handbag. The exhibition shows one that is decorated with seashells and another that has a steam ship on it made out of beads.
Judith Dore, museum secretary, said, “The exhibition has been very popular with residents and visitors. They always are, as clothes are something everyone can relate to. Some people can actually remember when these costumes were worn.”
The earliest seaside dress in the exhibition is from 1805. Photo © Barry Duffield.
Judith’s favourite piece in the exhibition is a maternity dress from about 1860. She said, “It’s white cotton pique and outlined in lovely embroidery patterns. The dress is heavy and would have been worn with a crinoline as well. It would have done a good job of hiding the fact that someone was pregnant, which at the time, may have been necessary.”
Emily Sands is the 24 Hour Museum Renaissance Student Writer in the South Eastern region. Renaissance is the groundbreaking initiative to transform England's regional museums, led by MLA, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.