Your wardrobe says a lot about you – take a peek in mine and you won’t find any sportswear at all but you might hear the growl from animal print outfits. I’m a girly girl who’s always loved fashion and although I own a pair of jeans I’d rather dress up than dress down. People express themselves and their feelings through their choice of clothes and this give others an insight into their lifestyle. I find this fascinating and that’s why I was keen to see the A Century of Style: Costume and Colour 1800-1899 exhibition at Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow and headed there with my pal Katy.
The exhibition is an opportunity to view some rarely seen examples of European womenswear, menswear and children’s clothing.
On display are dresses and outfits made with delicate embroidered cottons and elaborate woven silks, as well as gorgeous wedding dresses and fancy evening gowns. Leading Glaswegian department stores and dressmakers are represented in the exhibition, alongside an exquisite beaded couture dress from Paris. I’m partial to a bit of bling so I was glad to see accessories on show, including delicate jewellery, bonnets, colourful shawls, fans and purses.
What intrigued me was how these clothes were made as well as wondering about the stories about the people who wore them. I love to rake around vintage shops and snap up bits ‘n’ pieces that have seen a bit of action.
A recent purchase is a black patent handbag, I’ve no idea where this has been before I bought it or who owned it but I don’t need to guess about my favourite vintage piece.
One of my most treasured possessions is a beaded evening bag that my gran gave me.
Her brother George was in the merchant navy and this was one of the gifts to her from his exotic travels. My gran was a stylish dresser and I like to think that my namesake passed on her love of clothes and accessories.
But as far as I’m aware, as a working class housewife, she never had a reason or the occasion to use the evening bag. I bet she’d be chuffed to know that I’ve used George’s gift on several outings and I’m sure that wee bag’s adventures are far from over….
Fast forward a hundred years from the clothes on show in the exhibition and you find yourself in 1985, the same year Talk of the Toun is set and the fashions are not for the faint-hearted!
It’s the only era you could wear leg warmers, a geometric print jumper and a miniskirt all at the same time, and in electric neon colours. As a 17-year-old in 1985, like most teenagers, I was experimenting with my look and went from black to bright in a matter of months.
As a writer, the characters I create need to wear clothes to reflect their personality. Do you feel the clothes you wear say something significant about you?
11 thoughts on “You Are What You Wear”
Loving the 1980s version of Helen 🙂 And that’s lovely about your Gran’s evening bag. I hate to imagine what my wardrobe says about me!
Ha! Thanks Anne – some 80s pics were too scary to share! 🙂
You mght be interested in two of my favourite museums, Helen. One is the Fashion Museum in my home town of Bath, the other is the Tassen Museum (http://tassenmuseum.nl/en/) in Amsterdam which is given entirely over to handbags and is one of the most elegant museums I’ve ever visited.
Bath is a place I’ve always wanted to visit so thanks for giving me another reason to make it happen. Also, thanks for the Amsterdam link, I’ve only been there once but wasn’t aware of the handbag museum – sounds like handbag heaven! 🙂
I will always see that Goth image when I look at you in future! I have seen the exhibition at Kelvingrove too. I loved the way they presented if by colour rather than chronologically – very striking. And the portrait of my heroine, Isabella Elder, was in the “black” section. – bonus.
Ha! I hope my pic wasn’t too scary! Yes, I liked the reference to colours too and thought the addition of portraits was clever. Also ‘dreich’ was a great way to describe the drab but practical clothing choices of the masses. A considered and interesting exhibition.
I bought the book but was disappointed it didn’t follow the same format.
Good to know – I swithered as it wasn’t as expensive as many books that complement an exhibition so I’m glad I didn’t bother. But I did start my Xmas shopping in the gift shop – well impressed with the classy range of gifts.
Brilliant – I’ll have a few hours to kill this weekend in Glasgow so am definitely going to try to check this exhibition out! Totally agree that what you chose to wear (or your characters do) says so much – even if you just chuck on the first thing you find on the bedroom floor THAT says something about who you are. It’s a really interesting exercise to do for characters!
Hi Claire, Glad you enjoyed the post and hope the exhibition doesn’t disappoint. Looking at your website I can see you’re a fan of fashion so I’m confident you’ll enjoy it. You’re so true that even those who claim they’re not interested in clothes are making a statement about what makes them tick. Have a great time in Glasgow – my favourite city! 🙂
Mine too! (my hometown though I haven’t lived there in a long time) I’m coming up to visit my Granny so I might see if I can persuade her to come along too – she’s still got loads of shoes and accessories from the 40s so they might stick her in an exhibition!