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Bath's most fashionable museum

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Bath's Fashion Museum is housed within the old Assembly Rooms, which was the social centre of Georgian society. On most evenings it was full to the brim with eligible bachelors and pretty young ladies. The scene made such an impression on Jane Austen that she mentioned it in several of her novels. When you imagine these terribly fashionable events, do you end up wondering what everybody was wearing? If so, then you're in the right place.
The Fashion Museum has its roots in 1963, when a costume designer called Doris Langley Moore donated her collection of clothes to the city of Bath. Back then it was called the Museum of Costume, and it was relatively small. The name change occurred in 2007, and by that time the number of garments on display had multiplied dramatically. Today there are over 30,000 items, from every generation of the last 4 centuries. The oldest artefacts are a set of embroidered shirts and gloves from the year 1600. The rest of the collection includes everything from the latest pieces, to the spectacular get-ups worn by those Georgian aristocrats. As long as it was or is fashionable, you'll find it here.
Having said that, many of the pieces on display will seem quite bizarre. Trends can change rapidly, so the styles of 200 years ago can look like they were invented by aliens. Nevertheless, some of these odd creations were worn at extremely prestigious events, including the coronation of King George IV.
If you're interested in the fashions of years gone by - and if you're female - then you can try on the deadliest of all Victorian garments: the corset. You're given instructions on the correct way to wear one, and the apparent benefits that it gave.
One of the most popular parts of the museum is the Dress of the Year collection. In every year since 1963, a knowledgeable journalist has selected a dress or outfit that best represents the contemporary styles of that particular 12 months. These clothes are then donated to the museum. In this way, you can see very clearly how fashion has evolved over the past few decades.
Visitor Information
The Fashion Museum is open daily, 10am to 5pm and Sunday 12noon to 5pm (4pm in winter). Entry costs around £7 for adults, £5 child. Tel: 01225 477789

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