Saturday, 12 July 2014

Bath: Georgian dresses, vintage tea rooms and a modern necklace

HOW low cut is that black dress? Ay caramba!
Today I went to Bath to meet up with my friend Andrea. The main reason was to see the exhibition of Georgian clothing ('Georgian: Dress for Polite Society) at the Fashion Museum. As you can tell from the title, the clothes didn't encompass the whole of society, just the posher end - whose garments, let's face it, are the ones most likely to have survived.


Gorgeous bright colours. Yellow was popular in the 1730s.
It was really lovely to see garments from roughly a hundred-year period and get a real feel for how styles changed over the time. Some of the dresses were in one style, but made from silks typical of a couple of decades earlier, indicative of remodelling. Men's garments were shown as well as ladies', and it did strike me that the Georgian period, with its splendid coats and waistcoats, would have been a good time to be a well-dressed chap. I don't know if I've ever seen embroidery as exquisite as that on the men's garments.
Simply stunning work, still with incredible colours.
I am now kicking myself as The Great War in Costume exhibition is due to run from the 19th of July until the 31st of August, so if I'd waited one more week I'd have seen that too. However, I can easily go back before the end of August. One thing that tickles me about that exhibition is that as well as both authentic uniforms and civilian dress, they'll have some frocks from Downton Abbey in the exhibition - and when we went to Vintage to Vogue later on in the day, the lady who owns the shop said she's recently sold some dresses to the programme's makers, and that they were coming back for more. So some of the dresses could have been on sale in Bath a while earlier!
So very, very Princess Anne!
Of course, it's not just the big exhibitions that get changed at the Fashion Museum, and this time there was an extra treat in the shape of a few dresses worn by dresses of the British Royal family. I was very chuffed to see one of Princess Anne's outfits because I have a sneaking admiration for anyone in the public eye who'll cheerfully trot out and rewear stuff she wore in the 1980s - somehow she's managed to maintain the same shape, and doesn't give a snot if she ends up in some tabloid's Sidebar of Shame for wearing something so old. (Actually, given that the 1980s now get classed as vintage by some people, maybe Anne is ONE OF US!..) It was fun to see just how very Anne her outfit was, and Princess Diana's garments were likewise instantly identifiable as her sort of thing.
I was struck by how slender Di's frocks were.
After the museum, we popped round the corner to Bea's Vintage Tea Rooms. It's literally just round the corner, being just behind the Assembly Rooms where the museum is housed. If you have a real antipathy to embroidered table cloths and mismatched china it's probably not your sort of place, but I will say they serve proper cakes (not cupcakes) and good strong tea, and the large shop windows make the whole place feel light and airy, not claustrophobically twee. It's not cheap - we had afternoon tea for two at just under £15 a head, and we weren't offered extra water for the tea, or any extra milk - but it is all clearly homemade and in a lovely location, so I'd probably go back.
Bea's is usually packed.
We also did plenty of shopping. As well as Vintage to Vogue we dropped into Scarlet Vintage, lots of the boutiques, plenty of perfume places and some of the charity shops. I treated myself to a dinosaur pendant. No, it's not vintage. But it is a triceratops, and I simply couldn't resist it!

Have you been to any good exhibitions lately?
GRRRRR!

8 comments :

  1. Sounds like a perfect day!

    I have left Himself ensconced in a pub twice now whilst I browse the Fashion Museum on trips to Bath, keeps us both happy :-) I am beyond jealous of your triceratops he's mint.

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    1. Dinosaurs are cool. If I were a little girl, I'd be jolly annoyed at all the clothes with dinosaurs on being aimed at boys!

      If you ever fancy a chum next time you're visiting Bath, I'll happily prowl round the museums with you.

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  2. Gosh, that looks marvellous.
    And I find myself eyeing up those chairs in the tea room!

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    1. It's quite a cute tearoom. Not as authentically vintage as they claim - I'm pretty sure tea rooms in the 1940s would have one sort of china and one sort of furniture, not mismatched eclectic - but lovely to visit.

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  3. One day I am going to get to Bath and the Fashion Museum. It sounds like a great day out. That embroidered waistcoat is very dapper.

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    1. It is worth a visit. It's not huge, but what's on show is outstanding, and it's close enough to the centre of the city to be worked in as part of a full day out.

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  4. I love the fashion museum in Bath! Looks like you had a great time, I've been to Bea's for tea, but no cake, seems I missed out. Maybe next time. I do always pop into the two vintage shops you mentioned when I'm visiting, they're great for a rummage. Love the necklace. I had a thing for dinosaurs when I was a child, but seem to have developed a dino-phobia as an adult. I blame Jurassic Park. x

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    1. Aw, poor unloved dinosaurs ;-)

      The great thing about Scarlet and Vintage To Vogue is that they complement each other, serving slightly different markets and having slightly different stock. Scarlet is probably my favourite because the owner is such a nice person, but it's fantastic that one city can support two vintage shops so close to the main high street.

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