How real women dressed over the ages

How real women dressed over the ages

A lot of fuss and attention is given to how wealthy women dressed in ancient times. Yet for every affluent woman there would be 10 other women of more humble origins, toiling and working in low paid and thankless jobs. Here are some really incredible videos that showcase how these women dressed over time.

Women in lower paid vocations have always wanted to look well turned out and polished and spent a great deal of their wages and energy on inventively finding ways to look more wealthy and maintaining a sense of dignity and self-worth through their clothing,

Design as a clue to women’s daily challenges

How garments were designed gives us clues to their use and the daily challenges that women faced, which were often cleverly overcome by the design.

Hidden buttons in a pinafore protected WW2 nurses from scratching a patient lying down.

Hidden pockets in a dress in the 14th century allowed a woman’s purse to be concealed from view and prevented theft.

A hairpin worn in the hat of a suffagrette in 1910 could be used in self-defense if she was attacked by a mob while protesting.

VAD Nurse

Working class suffragette

18th century working woman

Middle Ages – Scandinavian farmer and wealthy woman

Sumptuary laws

The law prohibited poorer people from using certain trims, fabrics and even colours. This dictated what clothes they could wear and how they could look.

“Laws made for the purpose of restraining luxury or extravagance, particularly against inordinate expenditures for apparel, food, furniture, etc

“Anyone who was less wealthy strived to keep a sense of dignity and self-worth even if they didn’t earn much money” – Karolina Zebrowska

When I look at these clothes, some of them seem fussy and time-consuming to put on. Although some are so feminine and beautiful that I really wish they would come back into fashion. What do you think?

Here is Dolly Parton’s Jolene in medieval style…

Leave a Reply