What they Wore: Fashion and Finery of the Victorian and Edwardian Eras

Thursday, May 07, 2015 8:07 PM | Webmaster BHM (Administrator)

The following text is excerpted from the Beaufort Gazette article:

Eras of fashion Exhibit showcases clothes from Victorian, Edwardian periods

 By ERIN SHAW • eshaw@islandpacket.com • 843-706-8143

Author and history re-enactor Kim Poovey will demonstrate the female dressing rituals of the Victorian age at a tea party at the Dataw Island Club Carolina Room. The event is a fundraiser to benefit the Beaufort History Museum and raise awareness for its spring exhibit, titled “What They Wore: Fashion and Finery of the Victorian and Edwardian Eras.”


Kim Poovey, center, the curator of the “What They Wore: Fashion and Finery of the Victorian and Edwardian Eras” exhibit, talks to Cindy, left, and Bess Valieant about the clothes during the opening day of the exhibit at the Beaufort History Museum on Sunday afternoon in Beaufort.

The clothes on display are an array of undergarments, sleepwear and outerwear, including opulent silk dresses, linen nightgowns and beaded shawls. There’s a Victorian gentleman’s frock coat, a collapsible top hat and a lace wedding gown and veil so petite a child could wear it.

Some of the pieces are from the museum’s collection that don’t normally get displayed because of a lack of exhibition space, said Carol Lauvray with the Beaufort History Museum. Others are on loan from the private collections of Beaufort residents Kim Poovey and Stuart Heath.

Poovey, an author, history re-enactor and the exhibit curator, was dressed Sunday in a late 1870s dinner bodice in lily green, replete with ruching and tassels.

She speaks with reverence about the clothes and the period and believes she was born in the wrong era.

“At 35 I discovered who I was. I was a Victorian,” she said.

The clothing tells us much about that time in history, one being that a lady “could be beautiful without showing as much skin as possible,” Poovey said. “What women wear as a skirt today I consider a belt.”

Bess Valieant of Anniston, Ala., who was visiting the exhibit with her daughter-in-law Cindy of Beaufort, said she loved the fact that Victorian women dressed so flamboyantly.

Valieant added that she loves to sew and could appreciate the effort it took to make such detailed dresses with layers of fabric and copious buttons and lace.

Bristow, the mourner, said that the exhibit was special because it appealed to every woman’s desire to be a belle.

“Seeing these clothes up close makes you wonder,” she said. “We all want to be little girls dressed up.”

Our mission is to preserve, portray, and promote the experiences of our past that influence us now and in the future.

The Beaufort History Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 713 Craven Street, Beaufort, SC 29902. Mailing Address: PO Box 172, Beaufort, SC 29901 

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