Fashionable Tailoring for Women, 1750-1920


Conference Programme

VIRTUAL CONFERENCE ‘Women’s Tailored Clothes across Britain, Ireland, Europe and the Americas, 1750-1920.’

 September 18th and 25th 2021.

 The Research Interest Group (RIG) ‘Tailoring for Women 1750 – 1930 ’ is based at the University of Brighton, UK and at ACORSO – Apparences, Corps et Société c/o EA 7468 TEMPORA, University of Rennes 2, France and c/o Prof. Emerita Lou Taylor, School of Humanities, University of Brighton, UK.

This RIG conference, organised by Dr Suzanne Rowland, Visiting Research Fellow, University of Brighton, with Prof. Emerita Lou Taylor, School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Brighton, will explore developments in the national and global intersections of the design, manufacture, trade, consumption and cultural significances of couture, bespoke, made -to-measure, ready-made and second -hand tailored clothing for women 1750-1920.

If you are having trouble joining the conference, please contact George Sykes, Conference Digital Organiser []


Please note that all times given for sessions are in British Summer Time BST.

DAY 1, September 18th, 2021.  

10.30am – 4.15pm BST

‘Tailored clothes for women in Ireland-1750-1920 in the context of Irish social history.

 10.30 -10.40 WELCOME: Dr Suzanne Rowland, Conference Organiser, Visiting Research Fellow, Centre for Design History, University of Brighton and Lou Taylor, Prof. Emerita, School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Brighton.

SESSION 1. Designing and Making Tailored Clothes for Women in Ireland 1880-1920

CHAIR: Dr Hannah Rumball, Member of RIG Steering Committee.

10.40 – 11.00 Film Presentation of tailored dress in the collection of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, National Museums, Northern Ireland, by Valerie Wilson, Costume and Textiles Curator, Dress and Textiles at the Ulster Folk Museum (NMNI), a brief overview from curator Valerie Wilson.

 11.00-11.05 QUESTIONS

 11.05 – 11.25 EMMA KELLY Design History and Material Culture MA at National College of Art and Design, Dublin. ‘Grafton Tailoring: Slyne and Co, Dublin, 1885 to 1920.’

 11.25- 11.45 Dr ORLA FITZPATRICK, National Museum of Ireland, Dublin. Honoria’s outfit: an exploration of tailoring and taste in 1880s Ireland, made in the tailoring department of the firm of John Fitzgibbon, Castlerea, County Roscommon.

 11.45 – 11.55 QUESTIONS


SESSION 2. Tailored Style for Women in Ireland

 CHAIR: Dr Suzanne Rowland, Member of RIG Steering Committee.

 12.00 – 12.20 PROF. LOU TAYLOR University of Brighton. From Shawls to Tailored jackets and coats- the dress of poor women in Britain and Ireland: 1870-1920. 

 12.20 – 12.40 VALERIE WILSON. Costume and Textiles Curator at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, NI: Quality Streets: the modes and marketing of women’s tailored fashions in Ulster 1880 -1920.

 12.40 – 12.50 QUESTIONS

12.50 -1.30 LUNCH BREAK

  1.30 – 1.50 CHARLOTTE MCREYNOLDS. Curator of Art, National Museums NI. Rebuilding the costume collection at the Ulster Museum, National Museums, Northern Ireland, Belfast, after it was destroyed by bomb blast in November 1976, with examples from the post 1976 collection. 

 1.50 – 2.00 QUESTIONS 


SESSION 3. The Flapper in Ireland and England

CHAIR: Dr Marie McLoughlin, Member of RIG Steering Committee.

2.05 -2.25 RACHEL SAYERS, Independent Scholar, The Flapper has charm, good looks, good clothes, intellect and a healthy point of view.’ Tailored Costume and the First Flutterings of the Irish Flapper, 1920.  

 2.25 -2.45 Dr JENNY RICHARDSON, Lecturer University of Middlesex and UCA, ‘An eligible flapper in a brown suit’: presentations of the flapper, gender and tailoring during the First World War.

 2.45 – 2.55 QUESTIONS 


 SESSION 4. The Porous Boundaries of the Atlantic and the Channel – Tailoring for Women out of and into Ireland.

CHAIR: Dr Charlotte Nicklas, Member of RIG Steering Committee

3.00 – 3.20 Dr SARAH JOHNSON, Independent Scholar, USA.  A.T. Stewart’s Textile Mills & Women’s Tailored Clothing.

 3.20 – 3.40 Dr HANNAH RUMBALL, Senior Lecturer, University of Brighton. The Ladies Ulster in the 1870s and 1880s: From “Eccentric-looking” to “a beau ideal ladies coat.”

3.40 – 3.50 QUESTIONS

3.50 – 4.15 GENERAL DEBATE ON THE DAY’S PAPERS.  CHAIR. Prof. Lou Taylor

4.15 CLOSING REMARKS. Dr Suzanne Rowland


DAY 2, September 25th, 2021.

10.15am - 4.20pm BST

 ‘The Transnational Diffusion of Women’s Tailoring style across Europe and the Americas, 1750-1920.’


 10.15-10.20   WELCOME to DAY 2:  Dr Suzanne Rowland, Conference Organiser, Visiting Research Fellow, Centre for Design History, University of Brighton.

 SESSION 1. 18th Century to 20th Century Tailoring for Women

CHAIR: Prof. Lou Taylor, Member of RIG Steering Committee

 10.20 -10.40 JESS BANNER. Doctoral Candidate at the University of Ottawa, Canada. Tailored for the Eighteenth-Century Stage: Exploring the Role of Second-Hand Garments in the Costume Repertoires of the London Patent Theatres.

 10.40 – 11.00 JULIA CZACHS. MA Researcher University of Vienna and Dr WALTRAUD SCHÜTZ, Austrian Academy of Sciences.  Agency through fashion.  Aristocratic women as consumers in the Vienna Biedermeier period.

 11.00 – 11.10 QUESTIONS


 SESSION 2. Developments in Ready-Made Tailoring for Women in Britain 1860-1910.

CHAIR: Dr Suzanne Rowland, Member of RIG Steering Committee

 11.15 – 11.35 ABIGAIL JUBB, RECORDED PRESENTATION. Wolfson Foundation Scholar and Doctoral Candidate University of York, Tailored for Middle-class Consumption: The Department Store’s ‘Tailor-made’ costume and concept in early twentieth-century Britain

 11.35 -11.55 Dr CLARE ROSE. Multiple retailers selling women’s tailoring 1860-85: competition and comparison.

11.55- 12.15 MARY CHARLTON, LOU TAYLOR and JANE WILSON, University of Brighton. East End -1888:  Booth and Webb – examining the development of tailoring by and for women in the East End of London.

12.15 – 12.20 QUESTIONS

12.20 – 1.00pm LUNCH BREAK

SESSION 3: Tailored Sportswear for Women

CHAIR: Dr Fiona Anderson, Member of RIG Steering Committee

 1.00 -1.20 SHELLEY TOBIN, Curator of Costume, Killerton House, Devon, UK National Trust, Assistant Curator in textiles and dress at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter. Complementary Collections: the potential for research and interpretation of side-saddle habits in Devon collections.

 1.20-1.40 DIANE MAGLIO, Master Faculty, Berkeley College, New York, Fashion Dept. Flattery, Resemblance and Friendship: Women’s Man-Tailored Sportswear 1885-1919.

1.40 – 2.00 Dr FIONA SKILLEN, Senior Lecturer, and LAUREN BEATTY, Doctoral Candidate, Glasgow Caledonian University. Sporting tailors have recently been giving attention to special garments for ladies on the links’: Women’s golf clothing 1890-1930.

2.00-2.10 QUESTIONS


SESSION 4:  Etiquettes and Social Attitudes to Women in Tailored Dress


CHAIR: Waleria Dogorova, Member of RIG Steering Committee

2.15 -2.35  Prof. CLÁUDIA DE OLIVEIRA, Dept of History of Art, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Prof. MARIA CRISTINA VOLPI, School of Fine Arts, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Irony and “Difference”: connotations of female tailoring in the images of Brazilian women in the 1910s.

2.35 – 2.55 AZADEH MONZAVI, PhD Student, Ryerson University, Canada. Hats and Accessories worn with Women’s Tailored Clothes in Late 19th Century Canada: A Content Analysis of the 1896 Issue of the Delineator Magazine and the Eaton’s Catalog.  

2.55-3.15 CYNTHIA COOPER, Head of Collections and Research and Curator of Dress, Fashion and Textiles, McCord Museum, Montreal, Canada.  What Lurks within the Label: The Case of J.J. Milloy, Montreal Fashionable Tailor. 

3.15- 3.25 QUESTIONS  


SESSION 5: 3.30-4.00. FIVE LIGHTNING OBJECT PRESENTATIONS: Couture tailoring for Women in London, Paris, New York, Vienna:  1869-1925.

3.30: Introduction by Dr Sarah Johnson, Member of RIG Steering Committee.

3.35.  Dr Marie McLoughlin. Royal Yachts, English Tailors and French Couture. The yachting suits of Empress Eugenie and Princess Alexandra.

3.40. E-J Scott, Hilda Pennington-Mellor’s pink Worth Jacket 1889-1891. 

3.45. Prof. Lou Taylor, with the help of Meghan Martinelli, Assistant Curator at Hillwood House Estate, Washington, DC, USA, the home of Mrs Marjorie Merriweather Post; Michaela Lindiger, Curator, National Museum, Vienna and Waleria Dogorova, University of Bonn – Tailored suit c.1915 by Gustave Pollack and Brüder, Vienna, worn by Marjorie Merriweather Post.

3.50. Dr Suzanne Rowland. Copying Couture Blouses: from Lanvin to Debenham & Freebody.

3.55. Waleria Dogorova, PhD candidate, University of Bonn, Coat or Costume by Boué Soeurs, Paris 1920-25.

3.55- 4.00 Dr Sarah Johnson, closing remarks for session 5.

4.00 – 4.15 CONCLUDING GENERAL DEBATE ON DAY 1 AND DAY 2:  Who influenced who in terms of design diffusion?  Chair: Prof. Lou Taylor

4.15 – 4.20 CLOSING THANKS Dr Suzanne Rowland.


DAY 1, September 18th, 2021: 

‘Tailored clothes for women in Ireland-1750-1920 in the context of Irish social history.


EMMA KELLY, Grafton Tailoring: Slyne and Co, 1885-1920.

Founded in 1885 by William and Rose Slyne, Slyne and Co was a Grafton Street-based ladies outfitters, one of the frontrunners of fashionable consumption in pre- and post-independence Dublin. Within the city’s fashion landscape, it forged a reputation as a multi-faceted business, with an astute awareness of Irish society and the ever-changing world of fashion, offering ready-made goods, copies of models from Paris and London, and custom creations. A long-standing specialism of the business was tailoring. This paper explores the tailoring operations of Slyne and Co, between 1885 and 1920, and seeks to illustrate the business as a manufacturer and distributor of tailored fashions aimed at middle- and upper-class women. It will do so by examining the range of garments available between 1885 and 1920, accounting for changes in fashions and seasonal events, highlighting how some fashions were not only indicative of the type of business Slyne’s was and their client base, but also reflected the social and political landscape of the time. The paper will also explore the sources of the tailored garments, and the role of the tailoring workroom in the business and the formation of its reputation. With no surviving tailored garments to call upon, this research has relied heavily on Irish newspapers and periodicals. This paper will examine how Slyne’s advertised their tailored fashions in the Irish print media, from their early text-based adverts to their illustrated ones which began to appear in the late 1910s.


Emma Kelly is a graduate of the Design History and Material Culture MA at NCAD (Dublin), and the Fashion and Dress History BA at the University of Brighton. Her research interests centre on female-led fashion establishments, and fashion in the print media in 19th and 20th century Ireland.

 Dr. ORLA FITZPATRICK, Honoria’s outfit: an exploration of tailoring and taste in 1880s Ireland.

This paper will explore a woman’s outfit comprising of a satin tailored bodice and draped skirt dating from c.1885. Owned by Mrs. Honoria Joanna Rickard (1849-1934), of Ballymahon, County Longford, and made in the tailoring department of the firm of John Fitzgibbon, Castlerea, County Roscommon, it reveals much about the dissemination of fashion to rural Ireland and the rise of the Catholic middle classes in the post-Famine period. Made from wine and rust figured satin, its elaborate and complex construction includes a built-in bustle (which tied behind the knees) and a cuirass bodice. The outfit was donated to the National Museum of Ireland in 2005 by Mrs Rickard’s granddaughter. The survival of a label and photographs of the owner wearing the outfit will allow for a thorough examination of its creation and use.

The role of small town Irish draper’s stores in manufacturing and disseminating tailored clothing will be explored through the notices and records associated with the Fitzgibbon business. Adverts reference the purchase, by Fitzgibbon of materials and styles from Dublin, London and Paris and indeed in 1884, the owner announced ‘that he had just hired a first class cutter from Dublin to inaugurate the establishing of a tailoring and order department for the execution of both gentlemen’s and ladies garments.’ (Roscommon Herald, 1 November 1884, p.1) In addition to advertisements, the paper will draw upon census returns and genealogical data relating to both the owner of the outfit, the business and those employed in the tailoring department within Fitzgibbon’s.

The outfit will be examined for traces of wear and tear and its subsequent biography, up to its donation to the museum, will be traced. The outfit also provides an opportunity to explore how notions of respectability, class, and gender were manifested in dress choices in 1880s Ireland.


Dr Orla Fitzpatrick writes on photography, dress history and material culture. Her publications include a paper on clothes rationing in WWII (Costume, 48, 2, 2014) and a study of 1980s street fashion (Punk & Post-Punk, 9, 2, 2020). She is a museum librarian and educator, and recent conference presentations include a paper on protest photography at Fast Forward: Women and Photography, Tate Modern, November 2019.


VALERIE WILSON, Quality Streets: the modes and marketing of womens’ tailored fashions in Ulster 1880 -1920.

This paper will examine the choices in bespoke and ready to wear tailored clothing available to women in Ulster between the dates of 1880 and 1920.  The time period spans forty years of considerable political upheaval in Ireland, but also one of tremendous expansion of textile industries and the establishment of major department stores in Belfast, some of which were also manufacturers of clothing and accessories.  At the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries in Ulster many more women than before were finding increased opportunities for education, and in steady employment.  What did they wear?  Where did they shop?  Who made the clothes they bought?

Quality Streets will look at the offering from two provincial tailor/drapers establishments – Johnston’s of Pomeroy in Co. Tyrone and R.J. Sloane of Kilkeel in Co. Down, and the three largest department stores in Belfast, namely :  Robinson and Cleaver Ltd; Anderson and McAuley; and Robertson, Ledlie, Ferguson and Co. (The Bank Buildings).  In doing so, it will briefly reference issues such as the development of Belfast as a major port, the significance of the rail network in Ireland and how mail order and published patterns enabled Ulster women to dress as fashionably as their counterparts in Great Britain and Europe at the time.

The paper will be richly illustrated with examples and images drawn from the dress collection, archival resources, and photographic collections of National Museums NI.


Valerie Wilson is a curator at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum (National Museums NI), responsible for a collection of costume and textiles dating from 1760 to present day. Wilson’s current research interests include the history of needlework education in Ireland and the garment making industries in Ulster.


 RACHEL SAYERS, ‘The Flapper has charm, good looks, good clothes, intellect and a healthy point of view.’*: Tailored Costume and the First Fluttering’s of the Irish Flapper, 1920. *Colleen Moore, American Actor, 1899-1988.

The 1st of January 1920 heralded the age of the ‘Famous Flapper’, and the ‘Bright Young Things’ as literature, film, and legend would make us believe. From the beginning the Flapper was either heralded as representing all things modern or derived as something that was brash, and brazen. Nevertheless, what is less known is how Irish women, whose lives may have sat outside the realms of revolution, interacted with the modern image of the Flapper. Did these Irish women also dream of shocking society with bobbed hair, shorter hem-length tailored costumes, and Clara Bow style red lips? Or did they simply wish to avail of modern fashions and haircuts without the fanfare of the traditional Flapper image?

This paper seeks to answer these questions by utilizing advertisements and advice from fashion columns in three printed sources from 1920 namely the Irish Society and Social Review, the Dublin Evening Telegraph, and the Belfast Newsletter to discuss and disseminate how the tailored costume offered Irish women of all classes an avenue into becoming a modern Irish ‘Flapper.’ By re-centring, the Irish woman of 1920 through the lens of the tailored costume I argue that Irish women that were concerned with being fashionable in a time of revolution are just as important to Irish history as their sisters who bore arms and wore uniforms. Essentially, this paper seeks to re-establish the importance of the Irish women who did not actively participate with the upheaval of pre-revolutionary Ireland through the guise of the tailored costume and dress history.


Rachel Sayers is an early career dress historian, curator and blogger living and working in Ireland. Rachel’s work as a dress historian concentrates on early to mid-twentieth century Irish dress history with a particular emphasis on the relations between dress history and domestic, social, and leisure history of this period.

Dr. JENNY RICHARDSON, ‘An eligible flapper in a brown suit’: representations of the flapper, gender and tailoring during the First World War.

 From 1914 the term ‘flapper’ appeared as part of common parlance in Britain and was understood as a derogative descriptor attributed to pleasure seeking women, who defied pre-war expectations of feminine appearance and behaviour. Representations of the flapper contained explicit disapproval of excessive make-up and revealing clothes, but these women were also shown wearing male garments. This paper looks at nuanced and popular discourses of the First World War, which satirised gender through representations of tailored garments, including uniforms.

Set within the time frame of the First World War, this paper concerns itself with the cartoon representations published in the satirical magazine Punch and on whimsical postcards between 1914-1918. The gendered concerns articulated in these material objects are a visual humorous legacy of the War. Fashion is a particularly efficient, succinct method to convey society’s discourses through representations and the complex historical reactions thereof. ‘Humour does not exist in a vacuum; it is dependent upon the society in which it exists…’ as states the recent book Comics and the World Wars: A Cultural Record.[1] The authors argue that cartoons reflect the discourses of a particular moment in time whilst Lou Taylor emphasises that cartoons are an exaggerated portrayal of dress.[2] The use of tailored and gendered clothing provides a striking visual comment on the change in both appearance and the roles of the sexes brought about by the First World War.  Over the course of the First World War, tailored uniforms became prevalent, whether military or workwear across sexes and classes. Thus, these garments were understood as signifiers of duty, gender, and respectability so that when women were represented wearing tailored garments the exaggerated trope contained concerns of change, disruption and impropriety represented clearly by the eligible suited flapper.


Jenny’s research concentrates on First World War female munition workers’ workwear. She is currently working on developing her extensive collection of original First World War postcards, photographs, and cartoons into a monologue. Having taught Material Culture at the University of Brighton, she is teaching at Middlesex University and UCA.


Dr. SARAH JOHNSON, A.T. Stewart’s Textile Mills & Women’s Tailored Clothing.

Alexander Turney Stewart was born in Lisburn, Ulster, and set up his first dry goods store in New York City from Belfast-imported “very rich insertings…[and] very rich scollops” in 1824, and he continued directly importing luxury dry goods with annual European buying trips. His trans-Atlantic operations also included stores, offices, and/or mills in Manchester, Bradford, Nottingham, Belfast, Glasgow, Paris, Lyon, Berlin, and Chemnitz. Much has been written about the storied success of Stewart as businessman, art collector, and philanthropist (including aid to Lisburn’s cotton weavers in 1862-63), though rarely has his role in the development of the American textile industry been examined. As Stewart’s business evolved from strictly imported goods, my research provides new evidence of Stewart’s vertical and horizontal integration of his retail and wholesale functions by investing in American mills to produce American textiles.

More than 14 textile mills made a wide variety of goods, including wool, lace, cotton, woolen underwear, and carpets. And with these textiles, in at least one of his upstate New York mills (1840-1879), workers also produced tailored men’s suits and women’s cloaks. Stewart bought and operated these mills from upstate New York throughout New England, contributing to the developing American textile industry and his dry goods empire. The location of these mills suggests his utilization of better steam-age distribution, including the Erie Canal, and early New England railroads. New evidence also suggests that it was his wife, Cornelia Mitchell Clinch Stewart studied “manufactures and the tariff, and that it is to her is due the high rank held by American silks, cashmere and carpets,” leading to a re-examination of American dry goods manufacturing, and the manipulation of the worth of goods in tariff valuations for European exported dry goods and tailored garments.


Dr. Sarah Johnson is a New York based public history consultant. She serves on the University of Brighton’s ACORSO steering committee, is a Brighton alumnae, and researches, writes and lectures about American department stores and American manufacturing in the 19th century.

Dr. HANNAH RUMBALL, Senior Lecturer, University of Brighton. The Ladies Ulster in the 1870s and 1880s: From “Eccentric-looking” to “a beau ideal ladies coat.”

The nineteenth century tailored overcoat, The Ladies’ Ulster, is an important garment for dress and textile historians because it reframes our understanding of period women’s attire through its unfashionably untrimmed, waterproof and functional design. Despite this only a little research has been conducted on the garment. This paper focuses on the evolution of the overcoat in the first two decades of its adoption. It examines the critical reception of the Ladies Ulster in the 1870s when it was described initially as “eccentric-looking” (The Sportsman, November 15, 1873), and considers its design evolution to become considered by the end of the 1880s a “a beau ideal lady’s coat” (The Queen, June 18, 1887).


Hannah Rumball is a Senior Lecturer in Historical and Critical Studies at the University of Brighton. Her specialism is nineteenth- and early twentieth-century dress, material culture and women’s studies. Her research areas include nineteenth and early twentieth century women’s fashionable and Plain dress, with a specialism in Quaker Plain dress and its fashionable adaptation. As a founder member of the Research Network 19th Century Dress and Textiles Reframed she is interested in challenging myths and misinterpretations around historic women’s garments. She is also working with a Research Interest Group (RIG) on Fashionable Tailoring for Women 1750-1930 on a material culture, comparative study of the design, manufacture, retailing and consumption of tailored garments for and by women, at all market levels in the 1750-1930 period.

DAY 2, September 25th, 2021. 

‘The Transnational Diffusion of Women’s Tailoring style across Europe and the Americas, 1750-1920.’


 JESSICA BANNER, Tailored for the Eighteenth-Century Stage: Exploring the Role of Second-Hand Garments in the Costume Repertoires of the London Patent Theatres.

Second-hand garments constituted a substantial portion of the costume repertoires at the large eighteenth-century theatres in London. Although in many ways an inherited Elizabethan practice, second-hand garments were used by Covent Garden and Drury Lane theatres well into the eighteenth century, and the practice of patrons donating outfits to their favourite performers continued under the management of both David Garrick and John Rich. This presentation is interested in exploring the role of second-hand tailor-made women’s garments in the costume repertoires at Covent Garden and Drury Lane. To this end, I will examine the relationship between the London patent theatres in the Covent Garden area and the growing trade in second-hand tailored garments that emerged at the turn of the eighteenth century on nearby Monmouth street. I will delve into the relationship between these two burgeoning facets of eighteenth-century London, looking at the circulation of second-hand tailored garments and the increasing role of women as active participants in the public sphere. Moreover, I aim to analyze not only the prevalence of these garments in eighteenth-century theatrical costume repertoires but to explore how the garments themselves acted as a draw for spectators and functioned as part of the attraction for theatre-goers.  Since many of these garments have been lost in the intervening years, I will primarily draw upon literary descriptions of the Monmouth street tailor’s shops and records from the costume repertoires at Drury Lane and Covent Garden to illustrate both the popularity of second-hand garments as costumes and the ways in which they were sourced throughout the period. Finally, this presentation will culminate in a discussion around the archival issues surrounding the preservation of second-hand garments, looking particularly at the notable absence of second-hand garments from museum collections and posing questions about the nature of what is preserved.


Jessica Banner is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Ottawa in the Department of English. Her current project explores the relationship between clothing and performances of public identity for eighteenth-century working women. Her research has recently been published in Studies in Theatre and Performance and is forthcoming in Theory and Practice in English Studies.

JULIA CZACHS BA and Dr. WALTRAUD SCHüTZ, Agency through fashion. Aristocratic women as consumers in the Vienna Biedermeier period.

In early 19th century Vienna, aristocratic women used fashion as a means to shape norms and to negotiate gender-specific ideas. As consumers, they ordered and bought fashionable dress from manufacturers. By promenading in certain areas of the city these women were claiming public urban spaces as well as displaying their fashion choices to peers and onlookers. Our paper explores this appropriation of space through the lens of women’s tailored clothes as well as dynamics of social and gender hierarchies that show possibilities of agency concerning fashionable dress.

Transnational transfers of trends and patterns were shattered in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars, when social fears and anti-French propaganda led to the invention of “Viennese fashion” in order to reduce the influence of “foreign”, particularly “French”, imports. This hostility on certain tailored styles will be addressed as well as the design and development of tailor-made travelling and sporting clothes for women, that feature increasingly prominent in fashion magazines of the period.

Perspectives of gender history and approaches from the history of consumption will be used to trace the extent to which the nobility participated in social change in Vienna and how they shaped corresponding processes of transformation in fashion. The presentation will feature a range of primary sources, for example fashion magazines that show how certain tailored styles for women spread in the early nineteenth century, or correspondence between noble siblings which provides individual insights in the importance of fashion for their relationships. The methodological considerations on the subject will be interwoven in the narrative. We will conclude with opening the analysis to different geographical scales in order to position these expressions of agency within the Habsburg monarchy and beyond. Our contribution will enhance comparative discussions on the opportunities for women through fashion.


Julia Czachs, BA, wrote a bachelor’s thesis on “European Fashion and National Costume” (published in 2017). After undergraduate studies involving on fashion design with the focus on stage costumes, she studied history at the University of Vienna and is currently completing her master’s thesis on the life and work of Viennese dressmakers in the first half of the 19th century.
Twitter: @jtheseamstress

Dr. Waltraud Schütz studied history at the University of Vienna and University College Dublin. She completed her PhD at the EUI (Florence) in June 2018. From April 2018 to January 2020 project on women entrepreneurs in Vienna around 1800. Since February 2020 project on aristocratic women and leisure in early 19th century Habsburg society in Vienna at the Institute for Habsburg and Balkan Studies at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
Twitter: @truschuetz


ABIGAIL JUBB, Tailored for Middle-class Consumption: The Department Store’s ‘Tailor-made’ costume and concept in early twentieth-century Britain.

At the focus of this paper is the research question: how and why did department stores retail wholesale ‘tailor-made’ costumes to their middle-class, female consumers through concepts of bespoke tailoring? Writing in 1904, sociologist Georg Simmel theorises fashion as a paradoxical modern phenomenon through which members of a social group, and particularly middle-class women, could be united or differentiated. In the wider historical context of changing clothing production, from ‘made-to-measure’ to ‘ready-made’, I argue that this polarity was also cut and constructed into the clothes worn by such women, and particularly this paper’s case study focus: the ‘tailor-made’ costume of jacket and skirt sold by British department stores to a primarily middle-class, female market in the early twentieth-century. Through reference to surviving trade literature, ephemera and garments, my paper takes a practice-focused approach to comparatively reconstruct the supply chains of department store ‘tailor-made’ costumes with the bespoke tailored forerunners of these. My analysis of these reconstructions reveals the ways in which department stores can be seen to have manufactured and retailed an industrial version of the bespoke tailors’ artisanal costume, specifically through the quasi-customisation services they offered to customers, from choices of cloth to mail-order made-to-measure. I argue that such services enabled department stores to appropriate the personalised offer of bespoke tailoring in their distribution of wholesale ‘tailor-mades’. This interpretation underpins my critique of the ‘tailor-made’ label as largely inadequate when used for department store costumes, and even insincere in its use as a concept to engender a personalised retail experience. From here, I consider how producers and consumers could have benefited from this contradictory strategy by asking whether the department store’s ‘tailor-made’ costume and concept was in fact tailored to their modern, middle-class female market. More widely, my paper aims to show how conceptual interpretation of practice-focused research into garment case studies can enable us to understand the bygone cultural experiences of middle-class women through the extant production of their clothes.


Abigail Jubb is a Wolfson Foundation Scholar and PhD candidate at the University of York, her ongoing research project is titled: From Made-to-measure to Ready-made: The Production of Fashion and the Modern Female Body in Britain circa 1870-1930. She is also co-founder of Worn Workshop.

 Dr CLARE ROSE, Multiple retailers selling women’s tailoring 1860-85: competition and comparison.

This paper will examine the advertising, retailing and pricing strategies of two British firms selling tailored women’s ready-to-wear garments in multiple locations. They present two different approaches: H. J. Nicoll was already established as a menswear manufacturer, branching out into women’s tailoring from 1854.  Nicoll products were sold by agents, but identified by labels in an early example of branding. Alfred Stedall specialised in womenswear from the outset, selling in a chain of shops with their name above the door but not on the garments. A close analysis of newspaper advertisements by both firms between 1860 and 1885 will explore the extent to which the two firms’ product ranges and prices overlapped. It will examine how each marketed their clothing, invoking fashionableness, seasonal responses to the needs of middle-class consumers, technical innovations in cut and fabrics, and affordability. Advertisements for staff will be analysed as evidence for both firms’ manufacturing and retailing practices. The use of place in these advertisements will also be considered: Nicoll had an establishment in Paris from at least 1877, and was thus able to claim intimate knowledge of the latest French styles (Nicoll advertisement in The Field, 14-04-1877). Additionally, both firms flagged up imports from Paris and Berlin (Stedall, advertisement in Hampshire Independent Newspaper, 30-04-1881); this puts in question their claims to sell only items of their own manufacture.  The advertisements also demonstrate distribution and consumption networks within the United Kingdom, with regional stockists offering London quality – and prices – to geographically dispersed consumers.  This paper will build on my previous work on designs registered by Stedall and Nicoll in The National Archives, reflecting on the two firms’ very different uses of copyright protection and how this interacted with their development as retailers.


Clare Rose has been researching the British ready-to-wear clothing trades for over 20 years, making pioneering use of the Stationers’ Hall registered advertising documents at The National Archives. Her publications include Clothing, Society and Culture, (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011) and Art Nouveau Fashion (London: V&A Publishing, 2014).

MARY CHARLTON, LOU TAYLOR and JANE WILSON, Booth and Webb, 1888 – examining the development of tailoring by and for women in the East End of London.

This paper is based on our research into investigations made by Beatrice Webb and other investigators working for Charles Booth in the East End of London in 1888. These were published as Webb’s Pages from a Work-Girl’s Diary, 1888, (now in LSE Archives) and in Jewish Notebooks compiled in 1888, for Booth’s Life and Labour of the people of London, published in seventeen volumes between 1889 and 1903, (also now in the archives of LSE.)  Firstly, we will show how the results of these investigations can help us assess the type of work conducted by women in the East End tailoring trade, their wages compared to male tailors, their living conditions and their status in the trade at a time of industrial unrest. Secondly, we will establish the commercial links between East End tailors working for large scale tailoring manufacturing/retailing companies in the City and in Central London, with a case study.  Finally, we will examine the types and quality of fashionable tailored women’s wear produced in the East End of London in 1888.

It has become clear that in 1888 this branch of the East End tailoring trade was still in its infancy and functioning, unusually for this East End, trade, only at bespoke level. We will explain this in the wider context of the growing middle/upper class demand for such garments in Britain, Europe and North America.


Mary Charlton is an independent researcher. She is a freelance Costume Supervisor and tailor working in theatre and opera.

Lou Taylor is Professor Emerita at the University of Brighton and co-author of Paris Fashion and World War- global diffusion and Nazi control, Bloomsbury Press, 2020.

Jane Wilson is Jane Wilson is a historian, writer and lecturer in dress and design history.  She has lectured at The Fashion & Textile Museum, The National Army Museum and for private members’ clubs.


SHELLEY TOBIN, Complementary Collections: the potential for research and interpretation of side-saddle habits in Devon collections.

 From the 1880s tailors devised ways of preserving both the modesty and safety of the rider. Danger arose when flowing skirts became caught on the pommel, dragging or trapping the rider if thrown.  In 1886 H.J. Nicholls patented a safety foot strap which could be released easily in case of an accident.  Shorter, side-buttoning and apron skirts offered further security.

In 1894, the Hayes Safety Habit, developed by Alice M. Hayes, a well-known equestrian and author of classic work The Horsewoman (1910) and Frederick Tautz an Oxford Street tailor, was launched.  Illustrated in a chapter on dress in The Horsewoman by a rather unflattering photograph the Hayes ‘…was looked upon as a very fast garment, not on any account to be worn by a lady with a shred of modesty, in that when dismounted the riders’ legs were visible from the back.’  (The Queen, 1910). Riders now had a choice of four main styles of skirt, a smart trained skirt which looked good off the horse for riding in the park; a safety train with a space for the pommel; the apron skirt and a ride-astride skirt.

In 2004 the annual exhibition at Killerton, near Exeter, Devon, offered a survey of changing styles of side-saddle habits, showing innovations in safety skirts and protection from the elements. The displays featured habits from the National Trust collections at Killerton, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, and a private collection.

Why do the collections tend to focus on riding habits rather than any other type of tailored womenswear?  Side-saddle habits are particularly well represented. This paper will discuss some possible answers and ideas for interpreting and re-displaying the collections, with reference to contemporary accounts, particularly the collaboration between Hayes and Tautz, and innovations by Samuel Krohn and other tailors of continental origin.


Shelley Tobin is Curator of Costume for the National Trust at Killerton House, and an Assistant Curator specialising in textiles and dress at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter. She holds an MA in the History of Textiles and Dress (University of Southampton), BSc in Anthropology (UCL), and Postgraduate Diploma in Gallery and Museum Studies, and is an Associate of the Museums Association. Currently projects include researching for a new dress exhibition at Killerton in 2023, and contributing to In Plain Sight, exploring the legacy of transatlantic slavery in Devon, opening in 2022.

DIANE MAGLIO, Flattery, Resemblance and Friendship: Women’s Man-Tailored Sportswear 1885-1919.

There remains only to ask if it is the man or the woman who is to remake his or her self on the model of the other.  And since it is ‘the Bearded One who is the All Powerful’… then it is necessarily [she] who must bend in obedience.[i]George Sand

Society of the Gilded Age in America valued the need and desirability of play and recreation. Women enthusiastically embraced the sporting life. Men and women were competing socially in golf, bicycling, tennis and horseback riding as more relaxed relationships developed between the sexes through participation in sports.

Sportswomen needed clothing that blended into the sporting world created and dominated by men. They adopted the model of masculine tailoring for sports clothing in part as a form of flattery to the more dominant male. In examining garments from 1885-1919, the influence of men’s tailoring is decidedly obvious in women’s sack coats and Norfolk coats for sports clothing as well as shirts, ties and hats. Women looked to gentlemen’s tailors for proper cut and quality of design. The American Gentleman trade journal reported the new Garment Cutter for Ladies Tailors was having a much better reception than was ever anticipated.[ii] Merchant tailors were advised to increase their business and profits by starting a special man-tailored department for women.[iii]

This illustrated paper will examine the social significance of women’s tailored sports clothing as a reflection of men’s styles through garments from museum collections, retailers’ advertisements and tailoring journals from the period. The presentation will also address the economic importance of women’s tailored clothing in the ready to wear factory system.


After a career in the menswear industry, Diane Maglio is currently Master Faculty at Berkeley College Fashion Dept. Her published research and presentations have been primarily directed to the clothing and culture of American menswear. In 2020 she was a co-presenter at the Digital Multilogue on Fashion Education organized through the American University in Paris.

 Dr FIONA SKILLEN and LAUREN BEATTY, ‘Sporting tailors have recently been giving attention to special garments for ladies on the links’: Women’s golf clothing 1890-1930.

The clothing women wore to play sports have been discussed and studied in a number of articles most notably the work of Polley, Williams, Burman and Horwood, yet the development of women’s golf clothing has not featured amongst these. Perhaps the reason for this is that golf is often viewed as a conservative game, one where gender norms have historically been reinforced rather than disrupted? In this paper we will trace the developments of golf clothing for women from the early days of the game until the end of the interwar period. In doing so we seek to highlight that golf fashions, like those in other sporting arenas mirrored the changing expectations of female players whilst also reflecting the societal expectations of women of the period. We will discuss the everyday clothing worn by the pioneers of the game and the modifications they made to their garments in order allow them to play golf. We will also explore the growth of tailor-made sports clothing developed specifically for golf and the ways in which these sports clothes were marketed and ultimately became fashionable modes of attire by the end of the interwar period.


Dr Fiona Skillen is a senior lecturer in History in the Dept of Social Sciences, School for Business and Society at Glasgow Caledonian University. Her research interests concern women’s sport and popular culture during the late 19th and 20th centuries. She has also worked on projects focusing on aspects of Scottish sports history including, the sporting heritage of Glasgow, representations of Scottish Sportswomen, the history of Scotland’s role in the Commonwealth Games, women’s golf in Scotland and the early development of women’s football in Scotland.

Lauren Beatty is a second year Collaborative Doctorate Partnership PhD student enrolled at Glasgow Caledonian University. She is working in collaboration with the R&A World Golf Museum, formerly the British Golf Museum, on an oral history PhD project which explores women’s personal experiences of playing golf at club level in Scotland c.1945-1995 and the impact of gender, class and stage of life cycle on women’s participation in golf during this period.


Prof. CLÁUDIA DE OLIVEIRA and Prof. MARIA CRISTINA VOLPI, Irony and “Difference”: connotations of female tailoring in the images of Brazilian women in the 1910s.

Based on the concepts of irony and “difference”, this communication proposes to discuss the dialogical connotation of the use of female tailoring associated with feminism and the struggles for female emancipation, as a visual and clothing sign, in the Press in Rio de Janeiro, in the first decade of the 20th century.

The word ‘feminism’ is present in texts associated with caricatures that ironize emancipatory actions and discourses, in the same way that introduces the photographic record of young graduates in traditionally male professions.

Although, illustration and photography are not equivalent visual registers, each having different technical, and expressive plastic beauty possibilities, these images use tailoring to compose the dressed appearance of women in search of autonomy.

Caricature and photographic portrait of graduation do not represent the canons of modern feminine elegance, as in the fashion style of the great cosmopolitan centers. In these images, women wearing coats, vests, cravats, ties and culotes have an ambivalent or, even, an opposite meaning. In one hand, the caricatures mocked feminist women, on the other, the photographs positively signal women’s professional achievements.

Seen from the perspective exposed above, we start from the hypothesis that the appearance of clothing embodies the position of the subjects, male and female, presenting the “difference” as a dispute between the sexes.

In the new feminist ethos of the 1910s, the radical and recurrent investigation into the games of multiple female subjectivities constitutes a concern. Thus, what is perceived is a visceral man´s inclination to look at the woman who tries to look outside their closed world. In this case, tailoring precisely locates and maps, not only the territories of circulation between the sexes, but also defines feminist struggles and demands within the sexual identification system.


Cláudia de Oliveira – Professor of History of Art at the School of Fine Arts of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Author: Perfidios Salomés (2008); The Modern in Review: representations of Rio de Janeiro, 1890 and 1930 (2010). Organizer: Women in History: Gender Innovations between Public and Private (2019).

Maria Cristina Volpi – Full professor of Fashion History and Theory at the School of Fine Arts at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) 2005 – present. Author of Estilo Urbano (2018) and articles in peer-reviewed journals on historic Brazilian fashion. Created (2007) and coordinates the Fashion Textile Reference Center, at D. João VI Museum.

 AZADEH MONZAVI, Hats and Accessories Worn with Women’s Tailored Clothes in Late 19th Century Canada: A Content Analysis of the 1896 Issue of the Delineator Magazine and the Eaton’s Catalog.

The Delineator: A Journal of Fashion, Culture and Fine Arts was an American magazine established in the 1870s and published by Butterick Publishing & Company in New York City. The Canadian edition of the magazine was established in 1873 and published by the Delineator Publishing Company of Toronto. This paper closely examines the styles of hats and accessories deemed fashionable in the Spring and Summer1896 issues of the Delineator Magazine’s Canadian edition. The patterns and goods listed for sale in the Canadian edition of the magazine were ordered from Eaton’s catalog—a mail-order catalog published by the T. Eaton Company Limited from 1884 to 1976. The company, commonly referred to as Eaton’s, was established in 1869 in Toronto by an Irish Immigrant, Timothy Eaton. The Eaton’s chain of department stores became one of the largest in Canada, and its mail-order catalog became a staple in the homes of many Canadians looking for the latest in fashion. Thus, this paper identifies similarities and differences between the hats and accessories as listed in the June 1896 Canadian edition of the Delineator magazine and the Spring and Summer 1896 issue of Eaton’s catalog. This paper highlights the taste in women’s hats and accessories that accompanied women’s tailored fashions, and it reflects on the etiquette and social customs of 19th century Canada.


Azadeh Monzavi is a Ph.D. student in Communication and Culture at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. Her Ph.D. research focuses on the representation of the clothed body of women as depicted in the works of British artist Evelyn De Morgan. She is interested in art history, textiles, and fashion. Azadeh has previously presented at the 2019 Costume Society Conference in Birmingham and the 2018 British Association for Victorian Studies Conference in Exeter, UK.

CYNTHIA COOPER, What Lurks within the Label: The Case of J.J. Milloy, Fashionable Tailor.

In 2009 the McCord Museum in Montreal acquired an 1880s wool dress by the Irish-born John Joseph Milloy, one of several merchant tailors in the city who began to promote their establishments as “fashionable tailors” around that time. While it initially stood out as an exemplar of both a tailor-made woman’s garment and the work of a little-known local maker, questioning its internal evidence brought into conversation a wide range of historical evidence and led to discoveries that have considerably broadened and elevated the garment’s historical significance. It is precisely Milloy’s grounding within the menswear tradition, evident in some aspects of the styling and construction of the dress, but particularly in the label, that provided the key to rich avenues of investigation. Rather than the usual silk ribbon petersham belt with maker name and address woven in, this dress features a discrete cotton label with a coated surface that allowed the client’s name and date of delivery to be inscribed in ink, similar to those found inside the inner breast pockets of men’s coats well into the twentieth century.

Identifying the purchaser established a cross-border history for the garment and a connection between an event that Montreal created to draw American tourists and Milloy’s development of a clientele in the United States. That his activity eventually led to his arrest for smuggling opened doors to understanding Canadian tailors’ cross-border marketing and delivery strategies, and the reputation of Canadian tailor-made clothing over American in the 1880s and 1890s. The circumstances surrounding the client’s visit to the city also recast the appearance of the dress in a different light from a mere interpretation of contemporary fashion trends. I contend that the visual language of the dress in its original context served as a reminder of the colonial project of nation building in North America.


Cynthia Cooper is Head, Collections and Research, and Curator, Dress, Fashion and Textiles at the McCord Museum in Montreal. Her research looks primarily at dress and fashion that have become entangled with Canadian identity projects. She is a three-time recipient of the Richard Martin Exhibition Award from the Costume Society of America.

[i] Joseph Barry, Infamous Woman: The Life of George Sand (New York: Doubleday and         Company, 1977.) p.75.

[ii]  American Gentleman (New York: American Fashion Company), March 1905, p. 47.

[iii]  Advertisement, Advanced Fashions, February 1912, p. xvii.











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