Bronte clothing ,the Brown gown

This was the first dress I examined and a very pleasant surprise as it’s in very good condition and actually quite pretty Its dark brown and good though not exceptional quality fabric.

I am not sure which sister this gown belonged to .I think it’s attributed to Charlotte but most gowns are  ,I had thought before I viewed it that it belonged to Emily as it’s quite narrow skirted and Emily is known to have worn narrow skirted gowns  but it seems a bit too small on the bodice to have been Emilys ,its just  possible its Charlotte’s as she did wear brown but it just seems so unlike all the other gowns known to be Charlotte’s or described by those who knew her  that I cant quite bring myself to belive it hers.

I cant help but feel it might have belonged to  another of the sisters perhaps Anne ,she was a similar build to Charlotte  and not that much taller

and  while in good condition does show more signs of actual use ,possibly some pin marks ,

and  hem repairs and alterations .It has probably been lengthened by adding the broad velvet band around the hem ,there’s also marks that look like there was perhaps a pintuck that was unpicked to lengthen the gown .Perhaps it was passed along from one sister to another  or perhaps it was a hand me down ,, given to the sisters by a friend ,or employer?

To me it seemed like a gown  made and worn for  work either at home or elsewhere .Its seemed to shout governess gown ,Its plain but of decent quality dark fabric,there’s a limited amount of fabric used which suggested economy ,it front  fastens making it easier to get into and out of without the need for any help .The front trim helps disguise the front closure and may have also been used to help cover up any signs of wear.

Brown alongside Grey was a colour of choice for governesses, while black is the colour often described in novels and paintings  ,black was considered as less than ideal because many people disliked seeing  people dressed in the colour when not in mourning.

There is a small mystery attached to the gown the collar.

,the little “lace” collar is  fine black net that was in the process of being embroidered ,one side is completly finished but the other side has only the edges stitched  and the collar remains half finished.Ithought at first someone must have got fed up of the detailed work and given up but then it made no sense and I  wondered why ,,why not finish a collar on what was obviously a well used gown.Was Anne Working on the collar while working but discarded it when she made the decision to hand in notice and put away the governess gown in favour of prettier dresses or was Anne or Emily working on it while she was ill and forced to stop when death intervened?or was it a later owner who began the collar then decided not to wear the gown that had been given them by  the increasingly well-known “Miss Bronte ” but store it away safely for future display.I am hoping to inquire further into the gowns history.



About hathawaysofhaworth

I am a Historian and author living in the north
This entry was posted in 19thc, brontes, history, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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