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Author Topic: Deadly Victorian Fashions Article  (Read 2584 times)
Burgess Shale
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« on: June 13, 2014, 05:28:14 am »

Just as it says on the tin. This is a brief, yet interesting, article on the hazards of being well-dressed 19th century. It relates to an exhibit currently at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.

http://www.macleans.ca/culture/arts/deadly-victorian-fashions/
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Clym Angus
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« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2014, 10:38:54 am »

If I didn't live in the UK, I would visit this in a shot.
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ColeV
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2014, 03:52:52 pm »

If you check out the Bata's instagram feed they're turning their display room into a Parisian arcade. The exhibit opens June 18th.
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Rose Inverness
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« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2014, 09:00:51 pm »

Just as it says on the tin. This is a brief, yet interesting, article on the hazards of being well-dressed 19th century. It relates to an exhibit currently at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.

http://www.macleans.ca/culture/arts/deadly-victorian-fashions/


Great article!!! Thanks for sharing it. Abominable about the arsenic dress... and especially about high heels. I always knew they were meant to cause instability!
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pakled05
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« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2014, 07:44:26 pm »

I seem to remember late in the century that the detachable collars were made of (sp?) collodion? some primitive plastic that was very flammable...
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Rose Inverness
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« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2014, 10:33:56 pm »

How ghastly. And this in the age of gas lamps and candles.
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Arabella Periscope
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« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2014, 02:58:55 am »

Whew! I think I must have a swig of laudanum, powder my nose with white lead, find those coca powders the doctor gave me to recover from that article.
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Miranda.T
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« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2014, 11:20:05 am »

BBC4 produced a very interesting mini-series on the hidden dangers of the Victorian and Edwardian home. Someone has uploaded then to youtube - maybe slightly uncertain copyright there, but the links are:

Victorian home - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8Sq2FQrST0
Edwardian home - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4SW8bX37Ag

If I remember correctly, some women's accessories, and indeed entire dresses, were also made containing a similar type of material to cellulose, and some unlucky wearers did indeed die as a result of these igniting. For me though, the miryad uses they made of radium is the most chilling...

Yours,
Miranda.

« Last Edit: June 15, 2014, 01:33:56 pm by Miranda.T » Logged
VampirateMace
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« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2014, 03:21:27 am »

". . .that the average garment purchased in the U.S. is worn only six times before being discarded. . ."

WHAT!?! How does someone even afford to do that?


You know. . . when I made my 1880s dress, I never bothered to check if the fabric (of some vintage, from an uncertain source) was flammable. Glad we had fairy lights.

Edit:
That reminds me, I saw something the other night about how the shoe stores used to have x-ray machines so they could check the fit of kid's shoes.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2014, 03:25:28 am by VampirateMace » Logged

Heckler
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« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2014, 01:43:09 pm »

". . .that the average garment purchased in the U.S. is worn only six times before being discarded. . ."

WHAT!?! How does someone even afford to do that?

Over here we have a few stores that sell garments at absolute rock bottom prices, the downside being that they are so badly put together they fall apart if you wash them more than twice.  Clearly their selling point of super cheap prices mean they pay next to diddly to the cheapest sweat shop they can find.

Disposable clothes in effect.......
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VampirateMace
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« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2014, 06:22:53 pm »

That's terrible, why not just wait until a better store's clothes are on clearance and get more life out of them for the same price? Sure it's last season's look, but you weren't that fashionable in dollar store clothes. (okay, so that's rhetorical, I know you know the answer)

People used to be able to hand clothes down.
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Rose Inverness
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« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2014, 06:34:38 pm »

Though part of it is that 'what's In' changes so quickly, people are just as often killing their wallets to keep up with what's "trending". I'd say I miss hand-me-down days, but my friends and I still hand stuff across!! Why not?! Wink

I've heard this many a time, that thrift stores are so inundated with clothes that they're throwing some away. I think it's up to folks like us who are makers, who see the value in things, to seek our costume pieces in thrift stores or our own closets and figure out how to put them together, to be more ethical. We can do it!

And I think it's up to Everyone to quit buying from the 'brand new stuff' clothing stores and settle for a good wardrobe that's not falling apart.

Ah well. So now in addition to poisoning ourselves and each other with dye in our clothing, and wearing flammable things, we're overtaxing the planet's resources and making tons of trash, which is terrible for us all long-term whether we see it or not.

*prances down off soapbox*
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frances
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« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2014, 07:36:27 pm »

When I volunteered in a charity shop all the unusable clothes and the ones that did not sell went into a huge sack.  We would then sell them off to recycling plants to be recycled into paper and so on.
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Rose Inverness
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« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2014, 10:01:19 pm »

When I volunteered in a charity shop all the unusable clothes and the ones that did not sell went into a huge sack.  We would then sell them off to recycling plants to be recycled into paper and so on.

Awesome! Well that's a relief that some places are doing that  Smiley Thanks for sharing that.
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Peter Brassbeard
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« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2014, 07:36:37 pm »

If I remember correctly, some women's accessories, and indeed entire dresses, were also made containing a similar type of material to cellulose, and some unlucky wearers did indeed die as a result of these igniting.
Nitrocellulose, aka "Mother in law silk".  An early synthetic fiber not longer used for clothing.  Also used for a short time as an alternative to ivory for billiard balls.  Almost the same Chemical is a major ingredient in smokeless gun powder, differing in how much nitrate group is attached.

The related rayon acetate is a much safer fiber.
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von Corax
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« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2014, 03:38:35 am »

I seem to remember late in the century that the detachable collars were made of (sp?) collodion? some primitive plastic that was very flammable...

Celluloid. As I understand it, if you soak cellulose (eg. cotton or linen cloth) in nitric acid and a smallish amount of sulphuric acid, then rinse in water, you get nitrocellulose (gun-cotton.) Dissolve the nitrocellulose in diethyl ether and ethanol and you have collodion, which was used as medical dressing and as the emulsion carrier in wet-plate photography; evaporate the solvents and you have a clear hard film which made handling the photographic "dry-plates" much easier.  React the liquid collodion with camphor and then evaporate, and you get celluloid, which is generally considered the first thermoplastic (heat-softening) synthetic material which could be hot-moulded into an infinite variety of shapes, such as billiard balls, combs, toys, cinema film and shirt collars.

Celluloid was notorious for its inflammability. For example, if a cinema projector stopped due to a jam or break, the concentrated heat from the lamp would quickly cause the film to spontaneously explode. I gather that before acetate film was developed in the 1950s, London Transport prohibited passengers from carrying cinema reels on buses or trains for this reason.

Wearers of celluloid collars would have been relatively safe, as the explosivity only appears above 150 °C (at which point the wearer has other concerns) but I have no doubt that attempting to dry a collar over the fire, or pressing it with a too-hot flatiron, would have made laundry day rather more exciting than usual.

If you've read all of this, you now know far more about celluloid than you probably wanted to.
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Heckler
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« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2014, 08:22:50 am »

People used to be able to hand clothes down.

I wear a suit for work, I can't afford bespoke so I was buying off the peg.  The suits I was buying lasted less than a year before the material was worn out, the stitching giving out and the butt shiny enough to see your face in.  I won't mention the awful modern convention of using glue on the breast panels instead of a hand stitched canvas panel, so when you get the jacket dry cleaned the glue melts and the jacket looks like a wash board.

I started buying suits from Ebay or second hand stores, the older the better.  The last one I bought was an eighties three piece (I'm told they produce suits without the weskit but who would want to be seen in that?) and it's an off the shelf suit from that period, it cost me the princely sum of £11.  The material is of a very high quality, the stitching is top notch and it has the canvas panel in the jacket so it not only hangs better I can actually get it dry cleaned without fear.

The cost of this suit new was about the same as what you'd pay now for an off the shelf suit (according to the receipt still in the ticket pocket of the jacket) given inflation etc.  So what has gone wrong?  The same shoddy material and sweatshop manufacture as the budget shops I mentioned above but a premium price, the profit margins must be truely enormous.
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Rose Inverness
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« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2014, 06:33:28 pm »

As with the bizarre Victorian trends mentioned in the article, the problem is that people keep tolerating it. I, like Heckler, have gotten tired of it and unwilling to pay.

As long as people buy the crazily-priced cheaply-made stuff off the rack, and so-termed 'designer' clothes, and pay through the nose for tailored clothing, the pricing rise will continue. When enough people quit buying it, prices will drop.

I've already stated potential methods of innocent rebellion, but to summarize; trading clothes with friends, buying thrift or ebay, making your own, and ultimately settling for your wardrobe to last long and potentially not be "on trend".


 Wink Oh! And another thing: mend clothing. I've saved MANY a shirt sleeve with a few simple hidden stitches where the seam was tearing.
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Hurricane Annie
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« Reply #18 on: June 21, 2014, 11:25:22 pm »

 " Until electricity, ballerinas also routinely perished when the muslin of their tutus met gas lamps; the deaths were referred to at the time as the “holocaust of ballet girls.” "

"Mania for arsenic green (also used in artificial flowers, wallpaper, paint, even medicine for morning sickness) offers the perfect example."
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Arabella Periscope
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« Reply #19 on: June 22, 2014, 01:19:34 am »

Our mother used to buy things from the Oxfam shop, things beautifully made and of high quality, and my sister and I used to refer to them as "the clothes of the dead," and tease her about them having been died in by old people and being haunted by previous wearers.  Now, of course, I know that often a person who can afford good clothing often buys more than they need or something that does not fit properly or that turns out not to suit them.  And people change in size.  E-bay is a place where one can exchange clothing with others of like tastes and enjoy the long life of garments that would otherwise continue to languish in attics. 

Very cheap, modern clothing has its deadly hazards, too.  On several occasions locally we have had the fire department clearing warehouses in the docks area when unpacked quantities of garments from the third world gave off poisonous fumes from the sizing fluids used to give the fabrics an illusory substantiality.
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Hurricane Annie
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« Reply #20 on: June 22, 2014, 07:28:28 am »

Our mother used to buy things from the Oxfam shop, things beautifully made and of high quality, and my sister and I used to refer to them as "the clothes of the dead," and tease her about them having been died in by old people and being haunted by previous wearers.  Now, of course, I know that often a person who can afford good clothing often buys more than they need or something that does not fit properly or that turns out not to suit them.  And people change in size.  E-bay is a place where one can exchange clothing with others of like tastes and enjoy the long life of garments that would otherwise continue to languish in attics. 

Very cheap, modern clothing has its deadly hazards, too.  On several occasions locally we have had the fire department clearing warehouses in the docks area when unpacked quantities of garments from the third world gave off poisonous fumes from the sizing fluids used to give the fabrics an illusory substantiality.

 Dyes, sizing and other  added chemical extras on childrens clothing in particular can be highly  flammable , irritant and toxic .  That is a  serious event  you describe  and  a silver ling that  the offending garments did not reach public sale before it was discovered.
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Rose Inverness
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« Reply #21 on: June 23, 2014, 06:43:56 pm »

Our mother used to buy things from the Oxfam shop, things beautifully made and of high quality, and my sister and I used to refer to them as "the clothes of the dead," and tease her about them having been died in by old people and being haunted by previous wearers.  Now, of course, I know that often a person who can afford good clothing often buys more than they need or something that does not fit properly or that turns out not to suit them.  And people change in size.  E-bay is a place where one can exchange clothing with others of like tastes and enjoy the long life of garments that would otherwise continue to languish in attics. 

Very cheap, modern clothing has its deadly hazards, too.  On several occasions locally we have had the fire department clearing warehouses in the docks area when unpacked quantities of garments from the third world gave off poisonous fumes from the sizing fluids used to give the fabrics an illusory substantiality.

 Dyes, sizing and other  added chemical extras on childrens clothing in particular can be highly  flammable , irritant and toxic .  That is a  serious event  you describe  and  a silver ling that  the offending garments did not reach public sale before it was discovered.

Yikes and Wow.
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Hurricane Annie
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« Reply #22 on: June 23, 2014, 09:56:39 pm »

People used to be able to hand clothes down.


I wear a suit for work, I can't afford bespoke so I was buying off the peg.  The suits I was buying lasted less than a year before the material was worn out, the stitching giving out and the butt shiny enough to see your face in.  I won't mention the awful modern convention of using glue on the breast panels instead of a hand stitched canvas panel, so when you get the jacket dry cleaned the glue melts and the jacket looks like a wash board.

I started buying suits from Ebay or second hand stores, the older the better.  The last one I bought was an eighties three piece (I'm told they produce suits without the weskit but who would want to be seen in that?) and it's an off the shelf suit from that period, it cost me the princely sum of £11.  The material is of a very high quality, the stitching is top notch and it has the canvas panel in the jacket so it not only hangs better I can actually get it dry cleaned without fear.

The cost of this suit new was about the same as what you'd pay now for an off the shelf suit (according to the receipt still in the ticket pocket of the jacket) given inflation etc.  So what has gone wrong?  The same shoddy material and sweatshop manufacture as the budget shops I mentioned above but a premium price, the profit margins must be truely enormous.



 Lethal

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Heckler
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« Reply #23 on: June 24, 2014, 08:11:05 am »

Lethal

I was about eleven or twelve when that was on and I pestered the chuff out of my parents for a pastel linen jacket, unfortunately they didn't make linen pastel jackets in my size.  I was shuffled out of the gentleman's outfitters fighting back tears.

I largely blame this sartorial trauma for my slide into goth not long after.
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Hurricane Annie
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« Reply #24 on: June 24, 2014, 12:17:02 pm »

Lethal

I was about eleven or twelve when that was on and I pestered the chuff out of my parents for a pastel linen jacket, unfortunately they didn't make linen pastel jackets in my size.  I was shuffled out of the gentleman's outfitters fighting back tears.

I largely blame this sartorial trauma for my slide into goth not long after.

  my guess is something traumatised you before you  developed a hankering for the pastel suit Wink
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