Monday, 7 November 2011

A History of my Work and Research

I am a dress historian, and am currently a member of the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies at the University of York. I have written extensively on the subject of dress in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, and am currently working on a thesis on the dressmaking and millinery trades in eighteenth-century Yorkshire. My earlier research has covered topics such as the perception of fashion plates in the late C18th and early C19th, and the politicisation of dress during the French Revolution.
In addition to my academic work, I run Dressing History, a company specialising in authentic reproduction dress and accessories from the C18th and C19th. My clients have included the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Costume Project, The Science Museum, Clifton Park Museum, the National Trust and the York Archaeological Trust. I use my work with Dressing History to conduct research into the concept of experimental archaeology, particularly in regards to the construction of dress and accessories from the C18th and C19th. The process of reproduction can teach us more about the material objects themselves, and about the working conditions and lives of the individuals who experienced these objects. In this blog, I will be charting both my research, and my experiments in dressmaking and clothing reproduction.
I also work as a freelance researcher, lecturer, writer and costume mounter. I have recently worked on the Revolutionary Fashion 1790-1820 exhibition at Fairfax House in York. I write for various magazines and journals on the history of dress, such as Your Wardrobe Unlock'd, and have lectured at venues such as the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute.
I am also the author of 'Bergère, Poke and Cottage: Understanding Early Nineteenth-Century Headwear', which is available from Dressing History, the Jane Austen Centre and Amazon.
As well as this new blog, you can keep up to date with what I'm doing via the Dressing History facebook page and my twitter.

One of my reproduction gowns in a photo shoot for Dressing History. The gown is c.1842, and constructed from blue silk with a white floral motif, woven at the Stephen Walters Silk Mills in Sudbury, Suffolk. The bonnet is covered in blue silk satin, and has a ruched lining of white silk.

Carrying out research at Leeds Museum for my current thesis on the dressmaking trade for the Yorkshire elite 1750-1850.

Working at Fairfax House, York on the Revolutionary Fashion Exhibition 1790-1820 as an exhibition assistant. This involved mounting the garments for display, carrying out research, locating images, writing display boards and arranging the gowns around the house.

The images above are from two talks held at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute as part of the Jane Austen Festival. I have talked and lectured on topics such as C18th and C19th headwear, the dressmaking trade, and women's accessories.


  1. Glad to welcome you to the blogging world,Serena! Adding you to my links as I write!


  2. Looking forward to reading lots of interesting posts!


  3. Sounds fascinating! I wish I could get to the Revolutionary Fashion exhibition.

  4. Excellent! Glad you're blogging!

  5. All I can say is "WOW!" Your work is amazing, so glad I found your blog! I do historical clothing for a historic house museum here in San Diego, and make historically based dolls, so I appreciate your hard work and your skills, which obviously far surpass my own!

    Have a wonderful holiday season!
    Take Care,

  6. Great to see you blogging! I have added a link on my blogsite at

  7. Great to see you join the bloggiverse, one of the most reliable costume sources on the web.