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Many thanks to WECS – The West of England Costume Society – (and especially Jean Scott, WECS programme secretary) for inviting me to speak at their annual Janet Arnold study day.

WECS is a very vibrant society which started in 1973 and draws its membership from professional and amateur history of dress enthusiasts across the South-West.  We frequently have attendances at our study days of 60-70 people and this particular study day was started as a celebration of the life of Janet Arnold who was an original member.

It was held in Bath, had full attendance (60-70 members) and the event was titled: “Breaking the Mould?”: Freedom and Restraint in Victorian Dress.

This day will be devoted to the Victorians as this will be the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Victoria.  The title at the moment is ‘Freedom and Restraint’ and I want to focus on the sociological and technological changes which affected women and their dress during the Victorian era.

This was clearly well within the remit of my research. I was one of  four talks by fascinating speakers: Sophia Wilson talking about “The Art of Pre-Raphaelite Dressing”, Susanna Cordner – archivist at London College of Fashion talking about “Fitting the Female Form: A brief history of underwear in Victorian England” and Edwina Ehrman – Lead Curator for the V&A’s Clothworkers’​ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion talking about ” Rubber: From Forest to Fashion”.

I took along lots of costumes, some books and patterns and had some wonderful conversations with professional costume makers, dress historians, conservators and curators.

I also talked about my new Politics of Patents project which expands on this research. I am hoping I will invited back again next year.

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