In the Glen Innes Show at the end of the week, there’ll be something not to be missed: a fascinating fashion parade of underwear – the kind of garments from this area which your great grandparents and beyond might have worn.
It will include corsets, petticoats – and what the ladies behind the show call “crutchless pants” from the Victorian era in New England.
The Glen Innes History House’s Jenny Anderson and Jenny Sloman have put together a display which includes a dress that weighs a kilogram, a dress with an eighteen inch waist and a pair of underpants – knickers – which made it easier for ladies to respond when nature called but they were wearing layer upon layer of dress and petticoat.
Jenny Anderson explained that propertied Victorian women were so burdened with thick clothing that need came before etiquette.
“This is a pair of knickers which don’t have a crutch”, she said. “They don’t have a crutch because if you think ‘voluminous skirts’, it was much easier to stand when nature called rather than trying to sit.”
So now you know.
The exhibition will be done as a fashion show with the garments modeled by local women – apart from one dress which has an 18 inch waist, and they simply couldn’t find a model thin enough.
The whole show is a truly fascinating insight into the way fashion has changed and the way the burden on women has changed – literally the burden on women because some of the garments are impossible to imagine wearing with anything approaching comfort.
The clothes come from the Newstead property between Glen Innes and Inverell. They were left in trunks and discovered when parts of the property were sold.
Eventually, they were given to the History House Museum, and they show how propertied ladies dressed in the late 19th century in New England.
You can see the fashion show at 5 pm on Friday and 1 pm and 5.30 pm on Saturday at the Centennial Pavilion.