Decades of Fads and Fancies: History Wardrobe

Susan Tailby
3 min readMay 29, 2022


Historical fashion interpreted online? World War One? Love Lucy Worsley’s dressing up for history? Let me tell you more…

Delivering delightful historical costumed lectures, the two Lucy’s (not Worsley) take us (the viewers) through an era or gallop across the centuries using their historical clothing collections. They focus on working women (although not exclusively); how women were often wearing fashions designed for men adopted, not adapted for women’s bodies (such as in the 1980s uniformed services). We also get a sense of what it was like to live and move in such clothing, through actual historical garments and recreations and the lives of the women who wore them. Sometimes there is a mystery guest too!

At the end you can have a cup of tea or other themed beverage and ask questions. There is also the enjoyment of audience reminiscences and comments along the way!

These are some images from their recent First World War history lecture discussing how women’s fashions moved from refined laundry dresses to knit wear and practical everyday wear.

Beautiful Edwardian ‘laundry’ dresses:

Summery flimsy 1910s white dresses, lots of lace and broderie anglaise

A nurse’s uniform… from Harrods (spot the label!)

First World War nurse’s uniform supplied by Harrods — we can see the Harrods label on the collar

Nurses collar and cuffs… from the Harrod’s uniform…

Protective collar and cuffs for the nurse’s uniform in World War One

And sleeve protectors!

Protective sleeve covers for a World War One nurse’s dress

Warm, military inspired women’s coat…

Women’s style great coat — a warm change from knit wear

Factory worker facing health and skin damaging chemical hazards and the moral danger of wearing trousers!

Female factory workers wore trousers under tunics — which created an ethical debate about women wearing men’s clothing….

And spark safe clogs….

Traditional clogs had metal soles — no good for factory work! These are spark safe ones…

The hair protecting cap for the munitions and factory worker. Part Holland, part waitress!

No factory or munitions worker’s uniform is complete without a cap to protect their hair

Best of all, though mocked for it, women knitted for the war effort. Such as this military mitten/glove! (Others would work with tools for cutting barbed wires).

Much mocked, women knitted for soldiers — including gloves for using with revolvers and in the job of cutting barbed wire

Previous History Wardrobe episodes have covered Regency fashion and shoplifting…

Rich Regency fashion — feathery Bonnet, Topaz cross, low cut orange dress with a relaxed silhouette, creamy yellow jacket

Working women’s wear…(As well as World War Two, bedwear through the ages and the 1980s)…

Ready for work — one woman wears a mill worker’s clothes (smart white blouse, heavy ankle length skirt, patterned apron and clogs). Another woman is a land or factory worker — in a blouse, knee length tunic tied with a belt, trousers! and boots with a chef like cap covering her hair.

More in-person and online events here —

@ Screenshots are only for illustrative purposes — all content shown here is from History Wardrobe’s online lecture series, May 2022



Susan Tailby

By Susan Tailby. Appreciator of arts and culture; things I've seen and enjoyed and you might too! Reviews all my own opinion....Theatre, Movies, Dance & Art!