Summer day dress
White lacis (needle lace) and embroidered lawn, with macrame fringe and bobble trim; fastened around the waist with a ribbon belt
Museum no. T.465-1974
Given by the Hon. Mrs J. J. Astor
This style of delicate pale dress was immensely popular for wear at summer garden parties and fêtes. It has wide, inset panels of lacis patterned with a meandering leaf stem at the front, back and sleeve tops to complement the light fabric. An inner net bodice fastens at the centre front with a row of minute lawn-covered buttons and loops.
The fashion (current between about 1909 and 1912) for enormous hats was ridiculed in the popular press. However, fashionable women (even suffragettes) continued to wear these extravagant creations. False hair pads ('transformations') were often used, and the hats were anchored with long pins stuck through the hat and the real and false hair (safety guards shielded the sharp hat-pin points).
The dress was given to the Museum by the Hon. Mrs J. J. Astor and forms part of the Cecil Beaton Collection, brought together by the society photographer Sir Cecil Beaton (1904-1980). With great energy and determination, Beaton contacted the well-dressed elite of Europe and North America to help create this lasting monument to the art of dress. The Collection was exhibited in 1971, accompanied by a catalogue that detailed its enormous range.