How to Read a Dress: Fashion from the 16th to the 20th Century

Thursday 6 July | 6–8pm



The fashion curator’s job involves knowing why and when a garment was created. Yet some details can be impossible to discover. Join us at this expert talk to highlight the information you need to ‘read’ a dress accurately, as well as where to find it.

Analysing four centuries of clothing, fashion historian Lydia Edwards highlights the important features that mark the key changes in the history of dress, as well as the subtle differences in style from year to year that are harder to spot. She pinpoints some of the dramatic departures in shape, fabric choice, trimming and undergarments at key moments in history, as well as how dresses have varied in type, cut, detailing and popularity according to the occasion and the class, age and social status of the wearer. Her fresh perspective on the fluidity of time makes this an invaluable event for students, researchers, and anyone interested in dating and contextualising garments within the culture of fashion. If you love historical fashion or if you have ever needed to distinguish a cartridge pleat from a Récamier ruffle, this is a rare opportunity to discuss with an authority on the subject.

This talk is based on the new publication How to Read a Dress: A Guide to Changing Fashion from the 16th to the 20th Century (2017) published by Bloomsbury and available for purchase from the Fashion and Textile Museum exhibition shop.

Lydia Edwards is a Lecturer at Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia.

The event starts at 6pm with a glass of wine in the Museum foyer and opportunity to view the current exhibition The World of Anna Sui. The talk follows at 6.15pm for 6.20pm in the Fashion Studio and lasts for approximately one hour including an opportunity to ask questions. It is followed by a book signing. Ticket includes admission to the exhibition and guests are welcome to view this before or after the talk.

Price £15 / £12 students includes a complimentary drink and exhibition entry.
Guests are welcome to view The World of Anna Sui before or after the talk.

Book online
Numbers are limited for this event, please book early to avoid disappointment. If you have any questions about this event please complete our enquiry form.

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