Sparkle and Shine

Shelley Tobin, Costume Curator Shelley Tobin Costume Curator
Pretty in pink

The Christmas season at Killerton is well underway, this year’s exhibits have been checked and packed up in the stores, and we are preparing a new display which will be shown from February 2019.

As the Christmas lights twinkle around the house it seems like a good time to look at some sparkling pieces in the collections.

These days the shops are full of Christmas pyjamas, fluffy slippers, festive jumpers and glittery socks.

In the past, Christmas day was a special time for churchgoers when dressing smartly in your best was expected. A good coat or suit and hat, and maybe matching, well-polished shoes and handbags were aimed for. Parties and social gatherings may have called for something a little more glamourous.

Winter evening or dinner gown in beaded black velvet and lace, about 1899
Winter evening gown
Winter evening or dinner gown in beaded black velvet and lace, about 1899

Beautifully beaded dresses are a reliable choice for a special occasion.  The fashion collection at Killerton has a number of examples dating from the 19th and 20th centuries, and a few details are shown here. Would you wear one of these elegant beaded gowns to a Christmas gathering?

Detail of bead embroidery on a silk chiffon couture gown, 1970s
Pretty in pink
Detail of bead embroidery on a silk chiffon couture gown, 1970s

Jewellery and handbags, ties, gloves and slippers are favourite Christmas present ideas, just as popular today as 100 years ago, but much more likely to have been home-made or purchased from a sale of work than bought in a shop.

Pity the domestic servants who may have counted themselves lucky to receive a new cap and apron or enough fabric to make a new uniform dress as a seasonal gift from their employers. Advertisements dating from around the 1900s often feature embroidered afternoon sets as an ‘ideal Christmas present for the maids’.

Swatches of fabric for servants gifts
Fabric swatches
Swatches of fabric for servants gifts

Would you like to find one of the objects featured here in your Christmas stocking?

Search our www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk  for more fabulous inspiration from our collections!