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  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1905 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Printed cotton, pleated, Broderie Anglaise frills, boned, machine lace, lined with cotton, pearls

  • Museum number:

    T.21 to C-1960

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Crisp-looking blue and white dresses such as this were popular for boating and seaside wear. This dress was worn by Miss Heather Firbank (1888-1954), daughter of the affluent Member of Parliament Sir Thomas Firbank and sister of the novelist Ronald Firbank. Miss Firbank was young, 'had beauty, and she adorned it with exquisite clothes of a heather colour to complement her name', according to Miriam J. Benkovitz in Ronald Firbank: A Biography (1970).

In 1921 Heather Firbank's expensive clothes bought from leading houses, such as Lucile, Redfern and Mascotte, were packed into trunks and put into storage, where they remained for the next 35 years. In 1960 the Museum acquired well over 100 items from her wardrobe, which included dresses, costumes and a wide variety of accessories. This collection forms an invaluable record of a stylish and wealthy woman's taste over a period of some 15 years, from about 1905 to 1920. In 1960 the bulk of the collection, supplemented by Ronald Firbank's manuscripts, bills and family photographs, was exhibited at the Museum as 'Lady of Fashion: Heather Firbank and what she wore between 1908 and 1921'.

Physical description

Summer day dress consisting of a bodice, skirt and two belts. Flared skirt composed of four 28-inch widths of printed blue and white striped cotton pleated onto the narrow waistband. The bodice is pouched at the front and slightly bloused at the back. The circular yoke consists of tucked Broderie Anglaise frills and a pin-tucked cotton infill, and with a high-boned (using five bones) pin- tucked collar finished with a tape lace frill. Sleeves with short flared striped over sleeves which are gathered into the armholes bordered with Broderie Anglaise and frills. The inner plain white cotton sleeves are narrow, tucked and reach the elbow. The bodice is lined with white cotton, and fastened with original hooks, eyes and loops. Pearl buttons. Pleated belts with five bones and hook and eye fastenings concealed by a rosette. Machine stitched. There is evidence of minor alterations.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (probably, made)


ca. 1905 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Printed cotton, pleated, Broderie Anglaise frills, boned, machine lace, lined with cotton, pearls

Descriptive line

Summer day dress consisting of a cotton bodice, skirt and two belts, probably made in Great Britain, ca. 1905


Fashion; Women's clothes; Textiles; Lace; Day wear; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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