Living Fashion Women’s Daily Wear 1750-1950 Exhibition

Though fashion is on the never ending quest for the new and the original, it always looks into the past for inspiration. And it is more than apparent as you walk through the exhibition currently on show at the MoMu fashion Museum in Antwerpen.

Featuring garments and accessories from the historic clothing collection of Jacoba de Jonge, a Dutch private collector, the exhibition presents clothing worn by the middle-class women between 1750 and 1950 on different occasions — lounging at home in the morning, travelling, horse-riding, going to a ball masque. There is an interesting section focusing on pregnancy wear.


This is not a collection of trend-setting pieces. Rather it is the proverbial Dutch frugality at its best — keeping up with existing fashion in a creative manner. We see old dresses that are re-modeled into new styles, fabrics re-used and re-cycled. And another fact of note — women did not have many dresses then, even the wealthy. They would change the styles and looks with detachable pieces, collars, ribbons, aprons. Ingenuity is timeless, you see.


With the flower patterns all the rage now, the section on Chintzes and their colourful exuberant patterns is very instructive



And another trend– peplum, those frilly bits of fabric that ruffle around the waist. The inspiration is quite apparent.

What struck me walking through the exhibition is how tiny women were then. Of course the corsets helped but even without they were small. We have grown gi-normous compared to our contemporaries then.

Well, they did not have fast food and the fashion was slow, hand-sewn, hand stitched, soulful



LIVING FASHION – Dresses Undressed by Bart Hess from MoMuAntwerp on Vimeo.