Online course
Power Dressing: Fashion 1500-1800

Thursday 23 September 2021 - Thursday 9 December 2021

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Using the V&A’s world-class fashion collections and expertise, we will explore the world of male and female dress, from exquisite visions to peculiar and sometimes outrageous ones, and we will see how fashion reshaped the human figure. We will look at the different types of accessories used to compliment clothing: the wigs and hats, shoes, lace and jewels and we will investigate the stays, corsets and hoops that underpinned the fashionable silhouettes. On this three hundred year journey you will trace the social and technical movements that changed what was possible and what was desirable to wear.

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Jennifer Wearden

Course Director Jennifer Wearden

Jennifer Wearden was Senior Curator of Textiles in the Department of Furniture, Textiles & Fashion until 2005. With experience of the textile industry in Lancashire and 28 years working with the textile collection in the V&A, she has also written several popular V&A books including 'Iranian Textiles' and 'Dress in Detail from around the World'.

The autumn course has been fantastic and the cohesive delivery between the different speakers has really helped the course come together as part of a bigger picture. I'm looking forward to the next term of fashion subjects! Power Dressing student autumn 2020

Course Overview

Clothes protect our bodies. They can facilitate our movement or restrict it. They help us to conform or allow us to rebel. By choosing what we wear, we project our image to the world. Using the V&A's world-class fashion collections and expertise, over 12 weeks we will consider the availability and value of colour, the limited way fabric can be cut and garments constructed and the techniques required to create the silhouettes of the past. We will consider the purpose of clothing as decoration, as protection and as a statement of identity. Using portraits and paintings, we will explore the high fashions set by European courts in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the world of male and female dress, from exquisite visions to peculiar and sometimes dangerous trends. Learn how fashions reshaped silhouettes during this 300-year journey and trace the movements that changed what was both possible and desirable to wear.


Membership Priority Booking opens at 10am on Monday 14 June

Tickets will be available for general sale at 10am on Monday 21 June

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Online course: Power Dressing: Fashion 1500-1800

23 September 2021 - 9 December 2021


Need help enrolling? Talk to the admissions team:

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Open 9.30 - 17.30, Monday to Sunday (closed 24-26 December)