Side saddle riding habit (jacket, skirt, breeches)
John Redfern (1853-29)
Black wool flecked with white, lined with pearl grey satin (jacket) and cotton twill (skirt); breeches of woollen jersey
Museum no. T.333-1982
Given by Mrs J. G. M. Stewart and Mrs I. O'Reilly
The construction of riding-habits is a highly specialized branch of the tailor's art. Because riding-habits are subject to considerable stress, the emphasis throughout is on firm and accurate construction. Seams that take strain and might rub are lined and reinforced with black cotton, and buttons are backed with cotton. This particular example was made for Mrs James Fraser (née Miss Grace Isabelle Spencer-Smith), the mother of the donors.
John Redfern was born in England about 1819. In the 1870s he began designing beautifully constructed and practical tailored garments to meet the needs of women engaging in various sports, from yachting and tennis to archery and riding. His designs were adopted by royalty, actresses and fashionable women for everyday wear as well as for sports. He opened branches in London (1881), Paris (1881), New York (1884) and Rhode Island (1885). He closed his fashion houses in 1932. They were resurrected in 1936, but closed again in 1940.