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Worthing Museum Fashion Collection - Shirts

Updated: Feb 25, 2023

“Although we all wear clothes, it can be difficult to unpack the multifaceted narratives embedded within these objects, since garments as artifacts embody “complex composites with multiple histories” (Palmer and Clark 2005: 9)”

- p16 The Dress Detective by Ingrid Mida and Alexandra Kim

Just before Easter I made the first of two planned trips to Worthing Museum. With the support of Brighton University-trained dress historian/museum volunteers Janet Aspley and Jojo Lance I was able to examine in detail some of the real Regency garments they have in storage.

The Formal Regency, as it is known, lasted from 1811-1820 only, when King George III was deemed unfit to rule and his son ruled as his proxy as Prince Regent. However the term: "Regency (or Regency era) can refer to various stretches of time...The period from 1795 to 1837, which includes the latter part of the reign of George III and the reigns of his sons George IV and William IV, is often regarded as the Regency era, characterised by distinctive trends in British architecture, literature, fashions, politics, and culture. The Regency era ended in 1837 when Queen Victoria succeeded William IV (please see:

Jojo and Janet concentrated on pulling out pieces from the formal Regency but the museum's stores are extensive and some of the best preserved pieces sit either side of that time period.

Concentrating on men's wear on this visit we began with one of Janet's favourite pieces, an immaculately preserved linen shirt.

If you click here you can listen in to snippets of the conversation Janet, JoJo and I had concerning what is known about this shirt. As we talked and looked at each of the garments we considered from the Worthing museum collection we had the information on an associated museum card to guide us, plus Jojo and Janet's own research and expertise in "reading" historic garments. Janet also has experience when it comes to making shirts (see:

In the audio you can hear us considering...

...Zachary Walker and the number of shirts he might originally have had, this being no. 2...

...the impressive nature of the hems, specifically around the ruffle, which is barely 3-4mm wide with virtually invisible stitching...

...thread and covered button's...

nb: i've found this great site which further explains thread buttons:

..and Janet explains how the shirt is constructed from a series of squares of fabric, with gussets...

an interesting site about Worthing's history:


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