Protected: Olive High School Modest Fashion

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Date: c.1840-1860

Origin: India
Dimensions: H 36cm x W 43cm

A chemisette was a dress accessory that could be worn under the bodice of a dress to add more coverage to the neckline but was often a way of adding decoration too. Using a chemisette was a quick and easy way of transforming a bodice with a lower neckline more suitable for evening wear into something acceptable as day wear. They were usually made of fine cotton muslin, voile or lawn and ranged from simple styles that borrowed the look of a masculine shirt to much more elaborately decorated examples covered in embroidery, lace and frills.

This example is made of cotton muslin and is simple in shape but features fine floral whitework embroidery, possibly worked in India.

In this close up the finely stitched whitework embroidery down the front of the chemisette can be seen. The embroidery shows stylised flowers and leaves joined by thin meandering stems and is worked in padded satin stitch and stem stitch along with whipped eyelets and needle lace fillings. The centre front edge has been carefully finished with a scalloped edging worked in buttonhole stitches.

Date: c.1850 – 1865
Origin: Great Britain
Dimensions: W 17cm x L 42cm

In the mid 19th century, fashionable Victorian dresses started to feature sleeves that had wider and wider lower sections. Some had fitted cuffs at the wrist but other were open at the wrist, exposing the wearer’s arm from the elbow down. While this was acceptable for evening wear, during the day a ‘false sleeve’ like this would be worn to cover the lower half of the arm and creating a more modest look. Like many other similar accessories these were often made of fine cotton lawn or muslin and could be decorated in many ways.

One of the most popular types of decoration was broderie anglaise; a type of embroidery where handsewn eyelets were arranged to create elaborate patterns.

This close up shows the fitted band of the cuff where leaf shaped eyelets have worked very close together and arranged into a geometric layout.

This frilled edging to the cuff was designed to hang down over the wearer’s hand rather than be turned back. Here we can see the inside and the back of the embroidery, showing how neat it is even on the ‘wrong’ side. The broderie anglaise here features teardrop shaped eyelets arranged into a pattern of repeating Paisley motifs inspired by the boteh or buta motifs found in Indian shawls and embroideries. Extra details have been added in with stem and satin stitch.


Rhythm of The Looms by Scott Robertson and Janet Swan
Rhythm of The Looms by Scott Robertson and Janet Swan

A soundscape combining mill sounds from Queen Street Mill with the poetry of "mill girl" Ethel Carnie Holdsworth.

View item
Cloth Cultures - Cotton
Cloth Cultures - Cotton

Fashion Historian Amber Butchart curates an exhibition exploring movement, migration and making using pieces found in the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection.

View item
Turkey Red & Khaki at Elmfield Hall
Turkey Red & Khaki at Elmfield Hall

Exploring the connections between two iconic dyes and the story of William Gatty and his home; Elmfield Hall in Accrington.

View item

Visit us at one of our venues

See venues