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Silk dress from the 1700s

Costume and Textiles (Both)

Everyone wears clothing of some kind and the stories of people’s lives can be told through the clothing they wore. Changes in fashion, class, culture, status, men’s and women’s roles as well as economic and technological change can all be seen in clothing styles.

The clothing and textiles in the Colchester and Ipswich costume collections range from fashionable silk dresses of the 1700s to a 2010 Colchester United football strip made of polyester.

Most of what survives in the museum collection are clothes kept for ‘best’ and clothing of people higher up the social scale. Much less  common are clothes of ordinary people or working people because these were often worn out or recycled.

Social History Collections

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Covering thousands of years of history, a visit to one of our museums or art galleries will take you on a fascinating journey through time.

We offer a range of services to the public. From a free identification service to the portable antiquities scheme, we have skills to help you.

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