Black afternoon dress

About this object

As many men were away fighting from 1914 to 1918, women took their place in the workforce. They adopted loose-fitting clothes for jobs like bus conductors, van drivers or factory workers. When the war ended, men took back their jobs and women returned home, but the fashion for easy-fitting garments endured. At the beginning of the 1920s, waist lines on dresses dropped to hip level. This black and red wool 'afternoon dress' with its low waistline and calf-length hem is both stunning to look at and comfortable to wear.

The dress has the dropped waist line that we think of as typical of the 1920s. It has sophisticated style and there are elements of high fashion here, such as the plastic buckle with two coiled lizards, influenced by the Art Deco style. Although it looks simple, a lot of work has gone into making the dress. The central insert is hand-sewn from neckline to hem with red wool and a band of pin tucks runs round the dropped waist. It may have been made by Emily's dressmaker,Mrs Taylor, who lived next door. Her husband worked as a chauffeur for the Tinne's neighbours.

This is an 'afternoon dress', worn for going out or entertaining. Emily would have worn it to visit her friends for tea or maybe entertain visitors at her home, Clayton Lodge in Aigburth, Liverpool. Her women friends would surely have admired it and asked for the name of her dressmaker.
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