Clothes and costumes as Jobs for the Girls arrives at Killerton

By Culture24 staff | 25 March 2009
A picture of women in different uniforms

Jobs for the Girls. Picture courtesy Mark Passmore/

Jobs for the Girls at National Trust property Killerton will profile the clothes worn by women for work and leisure between the 18th and mid-20th centuries.

The original items on display include uniform and civilian dress worn by women from a wide range of occupations and classes.

The pieces have been drawn form Killerton's impressive collection of 17,000 garments, accessories, photographs and ephemera. Started by Paulise de Bush of Berkshire in 1933, it includes items worn by Queen Victoria.

The exhibition has been organised by the National Trust's Costume Curator at Killerton House, Shelley Tobin, who has represented fashion designers, models and lingerie makers alongside more traditional occupations.

Although women did not get the vote until 1928, they had started to take on a greater number of occupations by the 1900s.

Women played a vital role in keeping the country going during both the First and Second World Wars, stepping into roles left vacant and joining the forces as the men left to fight.

Between the war and the 1970s many women were expected to return to their traditional roles, and were normally limited to careers in teaching, banks, offices and hospitals if they carried on working.

A picture of women in land girl uniforms next to a gate

Land Girls at Killerton. Picture courtesy Mark Passmore/

The fascinating exhibition includes elegant tailor-made costumes, the forerunner of the business suit (dating from 1912) and glamorous cocktail dresses and ball gowns.

The uniforms on display include St John Ambulance Brigade and Red Cross uniforms, a Land Army uniform dating from the Second World War and a Norlands nanny uniform of 1970.

A touch of glamour will be added by the addition of a New Look dress and beaded cocktail hat belonging to Evelyn Horton-Parr, a milliner who worked in London’s Bond Street for most of her career between the 1930s and 1950s.

For more information visit The National Trust or call 01392 881345.

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