Yesterday we invited Helen Johnson, Museum Development Officer, to Nuneaton Museum. We wanted her to help us date a beautiful black silk dress belonging to a local heritage group. Helen has an expertise in period costume and was looking at a number of features that might suggest when the dress was made and worn.
The dress consists of a beaded bodice and full skirt. Helen looked to see if the stitching was handstitched or machine stitched. She looked at the shape of the sleeves, the fullness of the skirt, the height of the collar, the beaded shoulder decoration and the V-neck design of the bodice front.
Accurate dating was not easy as the dress has been used for amateur dramatics over the years and been adapted several times. However, the original style suggested a date between the mid 1880s and the early 1890s.
Thank you Helen for all your help!