Costume Collection

The Costume collection at Worthing is exceptional and ranks amongst the leading resources for dress history in the UK.

Established since 1908

Amongst its 30,000 or so objects are garments made for men, women and children; accessories, such as fans, gloves and hats; and tools of the trade like paper patterns and miniature garments made by tailors to show their wares.

The Collection was begun when the Museum opened in 1908. Acquisition gathered pace in the 1950s and 1960s and since then, we have worked to maintain its status by continuing to add items that broaden its range and increase its depth. Eighteenth and nineteenth century clothes are a particular strength, but the Collection reaches back to the seventeenth century and forward to the present day. Our oldest item of clothing is a Jacobean man’s jacket dated around 1610.

Exploring costume

Court Dress, c.1760s Ref. 1977/264

Pair of white chamois leather gloves circa 1650. Museum Ref: 2760/A

Pair of cream silk satin shoes with pink brocade silk covered heels. Museum Ref: 1962/3225

Dark green silk taffeta dress consisting of a skirt and two bodices circa 1890. Museum Ref: 1962/3464

Dress & coat 1969-70. Matching cotton trical, beige fleck with abstract design in green, turquoise, orange, purple. Museum Ref: 1995/401

Pair of buff-coloured cotton corset (stays), lined with linen. Museum Ref: 2007/163

Two piece dress consisting of bodice and bustle skirt in Prussian blue moire silk, circa 1865. Museum Ref: 2018/6

A pair of buff coloured leather gauntlet gloves circa 1650. Museum Ref: 2760/B

This very fine fragment of embroidery is probably from a jacket, circa 1600-25.

Haskins Wedding Dress - 1948 Wedding Dress, Haskins Garden Centre

Hospital Dress - 1910’s, NHS Nurse’s Uniform from St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, Worthing Hospital

Day Dress - c. 1960’s. Located: Northbrooke

Afternoon Dress - c. 1910’s, Located: Dinnages Volvo

Girl’s Dress - Located at WMA. c. 1900. Ref: 1975:391

Chanel Dress from Victoria and Albert Museum

Costume Collection with Gerry Connolly