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Breeches, Bonnets and Bags: British Fashion in Art Through the Centuries Rosalind Whyte Wednesday 18 September 2019

Portraits provide a fascinating insight into the changing styles of dress over the centuries. This lecture follows the different fashions as revealed in paintings, looking at dress and accessories, and some of the more ridiculous styles of fashion from the 16th century to the 19th century. It focuses particularly on fashion in England but looks also at some contrasting Continental fashions.  In times when Sumptuary Laws prescribed what you could wear, according to your status in society, fashion was much less of a personal choice and more a reflection of social standing.  The colour of your clothing or a plunging neckline could mark you out as belonging to a particular class.  Whilst the ordinary working folk might have longed for a wardrobe full of reds, purples and golds (or, indeed, for a wardrobe at all!), their ‘superiors’ may well have envied them their ability to move freely in their clothes, without the restrictions of ruffs, stuffed sleeves, enormous petticoats, or headdresses the size of small animals …. sometimes also containing small animals! Have fun exploring the wildest extremes of fashion through the ages.