Costume and Fashion

Detail of bodice and sleve (image/jpeg)

Clothes and fashion are a part of our every day lives. The costume collections at Hull Museums contain over 6,000 items, ranging from bodices to boots and waistcoats to whalebone corsets. The collection represents every major historical period from the Georgian period to the last decades of the 20th century. This section explores the diversity and development of fashion, showing what we used to wear, where we used to wear it and how we used to live. Please note that we are only able to display a very small selection of this collection at one time, although access to stored collections can be arranged for research purposes.

Fans - Functional, Fashionable and Flirtatious Fans - Functional, Fashionable and Flirtatious

Functional, fashionable and flirtatious, fans have been used from ancient times and have evolved from many forms and designs. From plain to highly decorative, they have been made from silk, paper and feathers according to the fashion of the day. Find out more about fan history and etiquette by reading on.

Objects in the collection

Flirty Flapper Fashion Flirty Flapper Fashion

The 1920s saw a radical change to the fashionable silhouette. In contrast to the previous decades, the tightly corseted shape was abandoned in favour of the slim line boyish figure. Read on to explore the radical fashion of the daring twenties.

Objects in the collection

Come Rain or Shine - Historic Umbrellas and Parasols Come Rain or Shine - Historic Umbrellas and Parasols

Shielded from the rain and shaded from the sun. Come and find out more about Hull Museum's umbrella and parasol collection and learn some interesting brolly facts.

Objects in the collection

1940s Fashion - back to 'Civvie' Street 1940s Fashion - back to 'Civvie' Street

War time shortages had a big influence on fashion in the forties. Read on to discover how the term 'The Full Monty'' originated, and why Christian Dior's New Look caused such a stir after the war time restrictions placed on fashion.

Objects in the collection

1940s Fashion - Rationing and Making do 1940s Fashion - Rationing and Making do

War time shortages had a big influence on fashion in the forties. Discover how the government introduced a clothing rationing system, which meant people had to 'make do and mend' with the clothes they already owned.

Objects in the collection

1940s Fashion - Utility scheme 1940s Fashion - Utility scheme

War time shortages had a big influence on fashion in the forties. Find out how the shortages in resources led to a government restrictive fashion scheme, which placed limitations on how clothes looked and how much material they could be made from.

Objects in the collection

1940s Fashion - 'Keep young and beautiful' 1940s Fashion - 'Keep young and beautiful'

War time shortages had a big influence on fashion in the forties. Discover how women managed to keep looking young and beautiful, and what hairstyles and make-up were popular during the wartime years.

Objects in the collection

1940s Fashion - Hard times for fashion 1940s Fashion - Hard times for fashion

War time shortages had a big influence on fashion in the forties. Discover the restrained and austere styles of the forties, looking at the main fashion features of the period.

Objects in the collection

Madame Clapham: Hull's Celebrated Dressmaker Madame Clapham: Hull's Celebrated Dressmaker

Madam Clapham was Hull's most celebrated dressmaker. She established her business in 1887 in Kingston Square, and continued until her death in 1952. Read on to discover how she developed her dress making business, when she reached the height of her fame and how she became a Court dressmaker.

Objects in the collection

Restrictive Fashion Restrictive Fashion

For over 200 years women were required to wear corsets to mould their bodies. Find out how corsets were made and why corsetry and whaling were very intimately connected.

Objects in the collection

The Mitchell Collection of Costume The Mitchell Collection of Costume

The Mitchell Collection is one of the most extensive and impressive collections of costume Hull Museums' own. From corsets to capes and bodices to boots, the collection contains many exquisite examples of historic costume. Explore the history behind the collection and how it came to be in Hull Museums.

Objects in the collection

Artistic Flair - Aesthetic Dress of the 1880s Artistic Flair - Aesthetic Dress of the 1880s

The Aesthetic Movement saw a new style of dress emerge which challenged the contemporary tighlaced look with loose gowns, natural colours and wild free hair. Find out about these bohemian rebels by reading on.

Objects in the collection