A SMART NEW LIFE

Talk

Emigration, Dress and Australian colonial society, 1820s – 1860s

Australia was generally reckoned as a country where, for much of the nineteenth century, there was little need for fashionable dress. With the steady influx of free settlers from the 1820s onwards, diaries, letters and surviving items of dress paint a different picture of colonial society, one which was often criticised for being preoccupied with fashion. Drapers, tailors and dressmakers advertised the latest goods and styles from overseas, while newly arrived emigrants found a society where the regular round of social activities required a range of appropriate dress.

This lecture will consider the nature of colonial society and the emigrant’s experience through the lens of dress. What did people bring with them to start a new life in Australia and how did this match with what they found on arrival?

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