Fashion Museum Bath was a place I wanted to visit for a long time. I’ve been reading about Bath in my regency romance novels for years (since I was a teenager), so is not surprisingly Bath was high on my list of places to see. Fashion Museum and the Assembly Rooms are in the same building. You can read a bit about them on the website.
When we got there, we were told that the Ballroom was closed, as so were the the other rooms. They had a few events on, for that day and the next two days too. We were able to get a peak through the open doors. Besides the Ballroom, there is a Tea Room, and Octagon and Card Room. The Tea Room was used for refreshments and concerts in the 18th century, thus is also known as the Concert Room.
The Octagon Room was intended as a circulating space, used for music and playing cards. On Sundays cards were not allowed, so visitors were entertained with music.
I love these dresses on display at the Fashion Museum. I picked only a few to show off, along some pictures from the museum. It was hard to pick only a few, as there are 10s of beautiful dresses. Their permanent display is called A History of Fashion in 100 Objects. Visitors can get an audio guide and I would recommend that. I did want to hear more about the dresses and accessories on display.
The Special Exhibition is Royal Women. The dresses on display are beautiful, highlights are Alexandra, Princess of Wales’ wedding dress, dating from 1863, and a dress worn by Queen Mary to the wedding of her granddaughter, Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II. You can see that special exhibition until 28 April 2019, the cost of the ticket covers the special exhibition too.
This gorgeous dress is from 1740s. It is a closed robe made from brocade-woven silk. Due to the persecution the Huguenots faced in France in the 1600s, a lot of them moved to England. They settled in the Spitalfields area and that became a centre of English silk weaving.
These clogs are almost 300 years old and I think they look amazing. I was surprised to see such a high heel. They had iron rings to stop the feet from getting wet, and wooden wedges.
In the back you can see a Man’s suit dating from 1770s: silk coat, breeches, waistcoat. Isn’t it stunning? I love the amount of decoration it has.
This is the second dress I picked from the 1700s, this time the 1770s. For me, this style looks so feminine and gorgeous, much more than the modern dresses look like.
Only 30+ years later and this is how dresses were looking. Quite a huge difference. The printed muslin gown was popular in the early 1800s. The motif on the dress is a patka, an Indian pine cone. The muslin was produced in Scotland.
Man’s trousers from the 1820s and a cotton dress from 1824.
On the left is a 1850s dress. As you can see, this is a morning dress, as it has only 3 flounces (those ruffle-like details), for evening a dress could be decorated with up to 7 flounces.
We saw the special exhibition and after that… we got into a lovely large room where corsets were hang and lots and lots of dresses. A couple of ladies were trying on some dresses. Of course we’ve stopped. Dressing up is one of the best parts of visiting the museum. Soon after we stopped, another two ladies stopped too. So, we’ve ended up exchanging dresses and taking pictures to each other. If you are wondering… I wasn’t the only one who changed a few times.
The first dress I’ve tried, without a corset. Considering what I’ve learned from visiting the museum, this is a replica of an early 1800s cotton day dress. I had my picture taken in front of the Royal Crescent.
Looks familiar, doesn’t it?
Next it was outfits from 1700s for me and my husband. I wear a tight corset, but the dress was too lose despite my husband trying to make it as tight as possible.
I was practicing my curtsy. That proved to be a popular idea, as the other ladies started to curtsy too. To make the perfect curtsy, slide the right foot gently at the back and go down slowly. The curtsy is lower when it’s made for someone who has a higher social standing and a small curtsy is enough for someone at the same social standing. Of course, for the Queen, a curtsy should be as low as possible. These rules apply for gentry, as the servants and lower classes can’t possibly know how to curtsy properly. Their parents can’t afford a dance tutor who will teach them the proper way to curtsy.
I did say I wasn’t the only one changing. My husband tried his second outfit. He said he preferred the first one better and I agree with him.
And another outfit for me, with another curtsy. This dress was the fittest. Very tight corset and very tight dress, what an amazing feeling. I love it. After staying in corset for 10 minutes or 15 minutes, how much it took us to change, wait for the others to take pictures, take pictures, it felt strange when I took it off.
The last dress I picked is an 1860s day dress made out of printed cotton, with a separate bodice and skirt. It has a cage crinoline. I love this. I wore a cage crinoline on my wedding day, as I wanted a huge wedding dress. Some friends told me it will be uncomfortable to wear, but I can’t disagree more. I had no issues with the dress, getting in the car, eating a four course meal sitting on a modern chair (smaller than the large Victorian chairs), or dancing till 4 in the morning. If you love these kind of dresses as much as I do, wearing a crinoline is not a burden, but a joy.
The exhibition at the Fashion Museum continues with dresses and outfits from the 19th and 20th century. I didn’t pick any of those, as I was too keen on these gorgeous old dresses.
Fashion Museum Bath is in the Assembly Rooms, Bennett Street, Bath BA1 2QH. There is no car park nearby, as the Assembly Rooms are close to the Circus and the Royal Crescent. The ticket is £9.00 for adults. There are also combination tickets that include the Fashion Museum, Roman Baths, and Victoria Art Gallery. Otherwise, you can buy an annual pass, if you are living close to Bath I think that is the best option. They offer free entry for National Art Pass and Hudson’s Pass cardholders and Museums Association members.