Clothing and Consumption

Between 1880 and 1939 there was a decline in restrictive dress such as corsets, along with dress reform encouraging women to wear more natural, comfortable clothing. Unskirted garments such as trousers went from being frowned upon to being iconic of the ‘Roaring Twenties’ and beyond. Shorter hairstyles were also favoured and fashions were mimicked by using paper patterns to create your own clothing. By the 1920s such patterns were widely available through women’s magazines and, with many working-class women having access to sewing machines, home dressmaking was a way for these women to access the latest, most fashionable designs.

All of the images and texts published in this virtual exhibition are for private use only and not for copying, reproduction or publication. They are low resolution images only. The copyright holder for these digital images is the People’s History Museum, except for the Tailor’s Notebooks and the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers (NUTGW) pamphlet which have kindly been contributed by the Working Class Movement Library, Salford. Copyright of the original artwork, photographs or products may be held by the artist, maker, photographer or agent. By choosing to view the collections via this website you have accepted these conditions.

We would like to thank Ingrid Francis (MA Museum Studies, Newcastle University) who has worked on the construction of this virtual exhibition as part of her placement at the People’s History Museum. We would also like to thank the National Co-operative Archives, People’s History Museum and the Working Class Movement Library for permitting items from their collection to be used in this exhibition.