Dressed for Best

Clothing for Formal and Royal occasions: 1700s to 1900s

Yellow damask sack back gown, c.1740 - 1760

Yellow damask sack back gown, c.1740 - 1760

22 September 2018 - 31 August 2019

Dressing for best is an important part of the way we mark significant events, and donning one’s smartest clothes in order to attend a special function can be an extremely enjoyable if sometimes daunting experience. The wearing of suitably smart clothing which conforms to expected codes is often central to the theatre of such gatherings. Viewed ‘en masse’, best dress can create a spectacular overall impression, and to the individual wearer such garments can bring a sense of status, belonging and confidence.

‘Best dress’ is all about making a statement. It is a key aspect of celebrating a momentous occasion, and perhaps most importantly it allows individuals, adorned in the most impressive way possible, to mark themselves out as special.

This year's fashion exhibition explores the social statements behind some of the Olive Matthews Collection's most lavish and iconic pieces. 


Exhibition booket available to purchase from our online shop