embroidered cloak, about 1860

One of the strengths of the costume and textile collections cared for by Calderdale museums is British costume from the nineteenth century.  We have more female than male clothing from this period.  This might be because items of womens clothing tend to be attractive objects in themselves, leading people to be more likely to preserve examples.  It could be because women would tend to have bigger wardrobes than men, and so be less likely to wear their clothes out, so that they are less likely to survive the passage of time.  We have more clothing items which would probably have belonged to people who were fairly well off as well.  Again this makes it more likely that the people who wore them would have had more clothing to choose from and so would not need to wear their clothing until it literally wore out.  This is one of the reasons that unfortunately little “working class” clothing of the nineteenth century seems to survive; certainly in the Calderdale museum collections this seems to be the case.

Bright floral motifs and chain stitch executed in a vermicular pattern embellish the edges of this cloak.  The yellow threads pick up the same colour as the bright silk lining, contrasting beautifully with the deep green fabric.  The shape of the cloak flares outwards towards the hem, echoing the wide, crinoline supported skirts fashionable when it was made.