Brighton Historical Society Costume Collection

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Back in late 2012 a friend, knowing of my interest in costume and social history mentioned to me that Brighton Historical Society held a significant Costume Collection in need of love and attention.

From that time my relationship began with some of the loveliest people but also collection of clothing that is rather special. This collection is interesting as it represents a community from as early as 1820 until the present day. Brighton residents continue to offer us their treasures, and this continuum is rather unique. The collection holds a diverse range of roughly 500 – 700 garments and personal effects with provenance as well as a significant collection of local, supportive items. Below you can see a selection of my favourites.

The Society is a not for profit organization staffed by dedicated volunteers, researching and conserving, local social history. This social history is relevant beyond the bounds of Brighton as it provides a snapshot of a particular part of Melbourne, Australia.

Victorian Collections Screenshot.

There are many task the collection requires, from organizing exhibitions, improving storage and processing new donations. For my part, with restricted time available for Pro Bono work, I have focused my efforts on the cataloging of the costumes with provenance. It was decided that an initial effort would be made to use the Victorian Collections register, an initiative developed by  Museums Australia (Victoria).

Our intention is to capture, make available and promote the clothing and its social history for students, researchers and the public. Due to restrictions in funds and volunteer hours the records for each item provide a taster of the information available, with further research and more fully detailed records produced upon demand.

This is a work in progress that fluctuates in its speed as it fits in and around other projects and responsibilities.

Here is a selection of pieces from the collection to demonstrate its scope and merit.

1790's Calash collage1860's Patchwork Dressing Gown collage1860's slippers collage1920's evening cloak collage1920's flapper dress collage1930's day dress collage1930's wedding gown collage1930's wedding gown 2 collage1960's water rat coat collage

If you would like to become involved with the costume collection at Brighton Historical Society send me a message at

If you would like to contribute to The Brighton Historical Society in general either as a member or as a volunteer please contact Elizabeth or Liz on 9553 8650, at or visit the website.

Click here to read about The BHS at The Glen Eira Festival of Story Telling – Celebrating Style – 1950’s in Melbourne.