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Fashion & Textiles


The Harris has a strong collection of women’s clothing and accessories from the 1800s to 1950s. Highlights include a Spitalfields silk dress from the 1740s and the dress in the painting ‘Pauline in the Yellow Dress’ by Sir James Gunn. A significant collection of Horrockses Fashions dresses from the 1940s to the 1970s is complemented by material from the company’s design archive.

The Harris has a wide range of men’s clothing and accessories from the 1790s to the 1880s, including rare examples of gentlemen’s clothing and servants’ livery from the early 1800s donated by the Hulton Family. Other significant areas of the collection are designer wear from the 1960s to modern day, including Vivienne Westwood and David Fielden. 

The collection also has examples of farming and working dress from 1880s to 1950s, CC41 utility clothing and underwear, Quaker clothing and a quirky collection of fuzzy felt fashions associated with two portraits by Mabel Haythorn in the collection. Many garments have strong connections with Preston and were made or worn by local people. These include clothes associated with the Preston Guild, and a significant collection of South Asian dress from the 1990s.


This collection includes flat works such as embroidery, lace, quilts and printed cottons. Local firms are represented, but much of the collection reflects textile’s status as a popular personal and creative activity, as well as developments in recent textile art. Highlights include a fragment of Coptic textile from around 600, and embroidery and samplers from the 1700s to 1800s. Quilts range from a military example from 1890s to the ‘Harris Quilt’ commissioned from Josephine Ratcliff in 1998. An interesting collection of post 1950s artist-designed fabrics includes William Gear, Shirley Craven, Althea McNish.​

There are also 18 volumes of historic South Asian fabrics in The Textile Manufactures of India. You can view the complete collection of fabric samples, find out more about Forbes Watson and the books by visiting

Fashion plates

The museum also holds a fine collection of over 2,000 unbound, hand-coloured fashion plates dating from the 1770s to the 1890s which have been taken from a variety of women’s periodicals. This collection can be viewed by appointment.


Click here to see highlights of our collection online at on Google Arts & Culture’s We Wear Culture

More of our costume and textiles collection


Around 50 items from this collection are on display. Items not on display are in our stores and are available to view by appointment. Please email if you have a specific query.


This collection is on display in the Costume Gallery on the 2nd floor.

Cost: free

This collection is free to visit

Exploring Fashion & Textiles

Image shows a yellow and white horizontally striped dress with a long full skirt. The dress has short sleeves, yellow buttons up the front of the bodice and is decorated in a striped pattern with black musical instrument illustrations..

Yellow and white musical instrument dress

Date: c1950s

Object number: 1999.562.1

Designer: Horrockses Fashions

Cotton shirtwaister dresses like this look simple from a distance. However, on closer inspection the dress features some classic Horrockses Fashions designs. From the banded stripes in white and yellow, geometric dots to an illustrated black musical instrument print. The small yellow buttons and matching belt pull the look together combining smartness, fun and practicality!

The style is typical of the kind of dresses that were so popular with Horrockses Fashions’ customers as they were suitable for almost any daytime occasion. This dress was made in the 1950s and was purchased by the donor from a shop in Preston.

Image shows a tartan shirt style short sleeve dress with a full long skirt. The dress is a red tartan pattern and has a thin black belt at the waist with a back tie around the neck.

Tartan dress

Date: 1950s

Object number: 1977.79.3

Designer: Horrockses Fashions

This unusual Horrockses Fashions day dress is an example of where the brand, famous for their stylish printed floral designs, occasionally deviated from their usual style. The collared tartan dress is made of cotton, instead of the more usual wool, and is patterned in the weave rather than by print. The tartan design has been brightened up by the use of colours such as yellow and fuchsia pink, making it a bit more exciting and less traditional.

The dress is also cut on the bias, a technique where the fabric is cut diagonally, and uses more fabric. This technique often means a dress will hang more delicately on the wearer, giving the dress a more interesting and flattering effect.

The attention to detail in the design and cut of this dress is what helped earn Horrockses Fashions their reputation in the 1950s where they gained in popularity. This particular dress was bought at Nottingham House on Fishergate in Preston by the donor and was donated to the Harris in the 1970s.

Image shows a light brown shirt style dress on a mannequin. The dress has long sleeves, a black belt at the waist and 5 black buttons down the centre. The dress has a repeat handrwitten text pattern that reads 'Elizabeth Regina 1953'.

Elizabeth Regina 1953 dress

Date: 1952

Object number: 2004.11

Designer: Horrockses Fashions

This cinnamon brown Horrockses Fashions cotton shirtwaister dress was produced to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. The dense pattern is made up of the hand-written words ‘Elizabeth Regina 1953’ printed all over the fabric.

The small repeating letters and the spaces in-between form a fine pattern against the taupe ground colour. Lots of commemorative textiles such as tea towels were produced to mark the Queen’s coronation in 1953 but few are as sophisticated as this dress!

The dress was acquired directly from Horrockses Fashions at their London showroom by the donor who knew John Tullis, Horrockses senior in-house designer, which meant she able to buy the dress for a bargain cost price!

Image shows a pink halter neck dress with a full skirt on a mannequin. The dress is pink with a white and yellow tulip flower pattern with a green tie on the chest.

Pink tulip dress with matching bolero

Date: 1954

Object number: 2001.38

Artist: Horrockses Fashions

This pretty pink cotton halter neck sun dress is printed with a yellow and white tulip pattern, it also come with a matching bolero and belt.

The dress was designed by Joyce Badrocke, who was the in-house designer for Horrockses Fashions. This particular Horrockses fabric print in blue was chosen by Queen Elizabeth II for her 1953-4 tour of New Zealand. The design wouldn’t have been made available to the public until after she had worn it!

The donor purchased her version of the dress at Nottingham House on Fishergate in Preston in 1954 to wear for her honeymoon.

Image shows top half of a dress on a mannequin. The dress is white with a black honeycomb net pattern design and a black floral imitation lace design. The bodice has a black ribbon around the lace and ruched detail on the chest.

White and black honeycomb dress

Date: c1950s

Object number: 2010.128

Designer: Horrockses Fashions

This Horrockses Fashions printed dress with ruched bodice is made of white cotton with a black printed honeycomb net pattern and imitation lace design. It comes with a sleeveless jacket in a matching design.

The dress was worn by the donor in the 1960s and was bought for her by a family friend who went on regular shopping trips to London. The donor was brought up in Wirral but knew of the famous and well known Horrockses Fashions brand as her father was from Lancashire.

She would regularly wear the dress for nights out when attending dances in the Chester and Liverpool area to venues such as Quaintways, Clemences and Reeces and said she “always had a good time in this dress”.

Image shows a green sleeveless dress with a full skirt on a mannequin. The dress is illustrated with colourful illustrations of food including a cheese, pie, boiled egg and fruit.

Green food print sun dress

Date: c1950s

Object number: 2001.37

Designer: Horrockses Fashions

Horrockses Fashions were famous for their floral dresses, but more unusual patterns were also part of the company’s repertoire.

This cotton sun dress with a rouched and boned bodice, full skirt and a matching sleeveless bolero jacket was worn in the early 1950s and purchased from a department store in St Anne’s.

It was designed and worn at a time when food rationing was still in place in Britain until the mid-1950s. The types of food illustrated include asparagus, quiche and artichoke, all of which must have appeared very exotic to people living off wartime rations. You can also spot other foods in the design including cherry pie, apples, cheese, asparagus and even a boiled egg!

Image shows mannequin wearing a Cream polyester two piece suit. Long sleeve top with single breast, button fastening, 2 pockets on left side. Long length trousers.

Cream trouser suit

Date: 1970s

Object number: 1993.85

Designer: Spinney

In the 1970s Bianca Jagger made the white trouser suit a fashion statement. Mrs Cheadle of Longton was rocking a similar look on nights out in Preston! Mrs Cheadle and her husband donated several examples of their 1970s clothes to the museum in the 1990s. This cream trouser suit John Travolta style outfit is by fashion label Spinney.

Image shows the bodice and top half of a red, white and black plaid dress with short sleeves and a high neckline with ruffle details.

Handmade plaid dress

Made: Bolton

Date: 1934

Object number: 2015.521

This red plaid dress was handmade by Ruby Barden in the 1930s. Mrs Barden worked at Dick, Kerr’s in Preston and was a keen dressmaker. She used the backroom of the family home as her workspace to make clothes on her Singer Sewing Machine. She bought her fabrics from local markets and stored all them in the children’s bedroom. Her daughter said that this was her favourite dress and that she had been very proud to have made it herself, it comes with a matching jacket and shawl.

Image shows a mannequin wearing a shift style evening dress woven with stylised green, pink, purple and gold floral motifs.

1960s shift dress

Date: 1960s

Object number: 2000.205.31

Designer: Berbright

This shift style evening dress was sold at Krafchik in the 1960s although it never actually found a buyer! Krafchik was a Preston boutique established in 1918 by Polish emigrants Nettie and Benjamin Krafchick on Cannon Street. The couple were originally from Konin in Poland. In 1977 Krafchik was closed and the unsold stock came to the Harris to add to the collection.

Image shows a flat lay of a black and white plaid jacket. The jacket is open showing the cream lining and label. The jacket has a plaid collar, pocket and two cream buttons.

Plaid jacket

Date: 1970-1980

Object number: 1993.119

With its £25 price tag still attached, this 1970s men’s plaid jacket has sadly never been worn. It was unsold stock from Carley’s Menswear, a shop based in St George’s Shopping Centre until the 1990s. The owner ran a number of fashion businesses across the North West including shops Fashion Pie and Sid’s.

Image shows mannequin wearing Shalwar kameez, comprising of an orange tunic and trousers. It has a silver floral pattern and a scalloped neckline with three buttons at the front, long sleeves, long tunic.

Orange shalwar kameez

Date: 1980- 1994

Object number: 1994.138

This is a traditional style of everyday dress worn in South Asian countries by both men and women. Shalwar are loose trousers and the kameez is a long tunic. This orange woven example with silver floral pattern and a scalloped neckline and was worn in the 80s/90s in Preston.


Image shows top right hand side of a Gucci skirt. The skirt is pink with different types of flowers in different colours and different types of plant pots. It is made of silk.

Gucci pink silk skirt

Made: Italy

Date: 1990s

Object number: 2004.44.1

Designer: Gucci

This pink silk Gucci skirt was worn by Dr Nicholson, a local doctor at Preston Royal Infirmary. She bought the brightly coloured floral plant pot pattern skirt while on holiday in Italy in the 1990s. She donated several other of her fashionable garments from 80s and 90s to the Harris collection.

Image shows a mannequin wearing a khaki coloured suit made of a long knee-length shirt and pants. Both pieces are made from a khaki coloured cotton, the shirt has embroidery on the collar and down the front along the button holes.

Khaki pathani suit

Date: 1990s

Object number: 1994.205

This khaki embroidered Pathani suit is a type worn by men in Pakistan, Northern India and Kashmir. The name originates from a region known as Pakhtunistan or Pathanistan, which crosses the border between northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. This suit was purchased from Bangees Fashion in Preston and was worn by the donor’s husband on formal occasions in the 1990s. He wore it to events such as visits to the mosque and during Eid celebrations.


Image shows grey dress on a mannequin. Dress has a grey bodice with round neck and short puff sleeves. The yoke and cuffs are trimmed with black velvet ribbon and white net and applique white felt flowers. There are three black bows on front of bodice. Image shows the top of a grey underskirt with white net overskirt appliqued with white felt flowers and a black velvet belt with grey plastic marbled buckle.

Fuzzy Felts grey dress

Date: 1950 - 1960

Object number: 1982.37

Fuzzy Felt was a popular toy from the 1950s for children, but Caroline from Frenchwood Knoll also used the shapes on her clothes! She added the fuzzy felts to this lovely grey dress with puff sleeves to create a floral design. This is one of over 30 examples of felt-decorated clothes made by the donor that she donated to the Harris. She also painted a self-portrait of herself wearing this felted frock!

Pale pink shoes with a leather stitched sole. The shoes have a bead, sequin and embroidered stitched decorative pattern decoration.

Pink beaded shoes

Object number: 2008.106

These pink beaded shoes with a leather sole were purchased from ‘Marhaba: Magical World of Fashion’ in Deepdale Preston. This type of shoe is known as mojari or khussa, which is a style of footwear in South Asia. They were chosen by a group of local South Asian women as part of community project in 2008. They picked them because they were a good example of what a young British Asian girl would wear with skinny jeans and a kaftan.

Mannequin showing pink floor length silk evening gown with pearl beading around a high neckline and under the bust. Long sleeves made of sheer see-through pink chiffon or voile fabric.

Susan Small pink silk evening dress

Made: England

Object number: 2014.19

Designer: Susan Small

This eye-catching pink silk evening gown with pearl beading around the neck was made by the label Susan Small. The donor bought the dress in Speights on Friargate in Preston to wear during the 1972 Preston Guild. She wore it to a party at the Bull and Royal on Church Street where she apparently stole the show! She never wore the dress again but as it was so special she decided to keep it stored above her wardrobe for 42 years.



Image shows a cloche hat, embroidered with an all over floral pattern in pink, blue, navy blue, gold and cream, trimmed with a navy blue and pale blue gros-grain ribbon. Hat is shown on a clear perspex stand against a blue background on a blue stand.

Embroidered cloche hat

Date: 1920s

Object number: 1999.86.1

Embroidered with an all over floral pattern in pink, blue, navy, gold and cream, this cloche hat trimmed with ribbon is from the 1920s. It was worn by the donor’s grandmother Jane Merigold when she was in her sixties. When she was young she worked in a local mill before later marrying Albert Merigold. He was a well-known car dealer, toyshop owner and sports outfitter. The Merigold Brothers also opened Preston’s first cinema – ‘The Embee’.

Mannequin wearing mustard yellow evening blouse with long sleeves and a collar. Blouse has appliqued panels of black net and gold sequins - two long triangular panels under the front false pocket flaps on the chest and around edge of collar; fastening down the front with eight buttons.

Yellow 80s blouse

Made: Germany

Date: 1987-89

Object number: 1999.100

Designer: Sommermann

Worn by the donor in the 1980s, this mustard yellow long sleeve evening blouse with appliqued panels of black net and gold sequins was bought at Wynn’s on Fylde Road for around £40. The donor wore the shirt when she was in her mid thirties with a long black skirt or trousers, gold earrings and a black handbag with a gold chain. She rarely worn the blouse as she didn’t think the colour suited her but as it was expensive she decided to keep it rather than give it away at the time.

Image shows a deep blue evening dress, fitted boned bodice, shoulder straps, full skirt, dark blue nylon tulle over taffeta (man made), dark blue sequinned bodice on a white mannequin.

Blue sequin and tulle evening dress

Made: London

Date: 1970

Object number: 1999.15.1a

Designer: Rebuck

This dark blue sequin and tulle evening dress was purchased from Nottingham House, one of the poshest dress shops in Preston. It was worn by the donor to a Masonic Ladies night in a Blackpool hotel in 1970 with a fur stole and matching shoes and handbag. These events were formal dress only and were held annually to thank the ladies for their support throughout the year. The day would involve dancing, entertainment, food and drink until midnight and finished with bacon and eggs and ice cream!

Image shows three flat pieces of a men's suit. Bottom left of image is a black wool suit jacket with single breast two button fastening and black lining. To the right is a pair of black and gray pin-striped trousers, button fly with buttons for braces. At the top of the image is a black wool waistcoat with cream striped cotton lining, it has a five buttoned fastening with four pockets.

Harold B. Sim black wool suit

Made: Preston

Date: 1920s

Object number: 2004.18.1-3

Designer: Harold B. Sim

Local tailor Harold B. Sim of Ribbleton Lane made this black wool pinstripe suit in the 1920s. It was purchased by Anthony Conway to wear as his Sunday best. Anthony was a slater whose jobs in the area included St Walburge’s church spire. He and his wife Ruth lived on High Street – which is where the Ring Way is now.



Mannequin wearing hand crocheted yellow full length evening dress with wide pagoda sleeves.

Yellow crocheted evening dress

Made: Preston

Date: 1962

Object number: 1999.78

This striking yellow hand-crocheted evening dress with pagoda sleeves was made by Bernie Barmby in 1962 with wool from Coupes in Preston. The dress was worn with a separate full length yellow cotton underskirt and light stockings. She accessorised the dress with a pair of gold high heels, long gold earrings and gold gloves flecked with yellow. A strong look!



Pink hat, covered entirely in material that has been ruched and tucked. Two pink roses at the side made out of the same pink material, with green stems and leaves. Neat, bonnet-like hat with a small brim. Pink colour very vivid and sugary.

Edna Deakin pink hat

Made: Preston

Date: 1960s

Object number: 2008.149

Designer: Edna Deakin

This pink ruched bonnet-style hat was bought in 1966 from Edna Deakin’s shop. Edna was a well-known hat maker based on Church Street between 1938 and 1983. Her shop stayed open during the war (as hats weren’t rationed) and only closed when Church Street was redeveloped by the council. The hat was purchased for the donors wedding by her mother and it became her favourite, she wore the hat to many more weddings and events!

White satin kameez embroidered with multi coloured beads, sequins and silks in reds, blues, gold and yellow colours.

White satin shalwar kameez

Date: 1995

Object number: tc1460

A little glitter goes a long way on this white satin shalwar kameez embroidered with multi coloured beads and silks. Mrs Patel from Deepdale donated this outfit to the Harris in the 1990s, along with several examples of men’s and women’s clothing. Mrs Patel often shopped at Bangee Fabrics in Preston – which is still trading on Argyll Road.

hild's dress, green cotton, with a high waist, full skirt, short puffed sleeves, buttoning at the bask with three white buttons, embroidered around the neck with a simple pattern of semi-circles in yellow and green silks

Child’s green dress

Made: Preston

Date: 1953

This green child’s cotton dress has a high waist, full skirt, short puffed sleeves and an embroidered neck with a simple pattern of semi-circles in yellow and green silks. The dress came from a draper’s shop owned by Agnes Cookson at 218 Plungington Road. The shop closed down in 1953 and the dress was part of a collection of unsold stock that was donated to the Harris.



Pair of Grenson men's size 8 shoes made of mustard coloured leather with leather sole and cream laces.

Mustard leather shoes

Made: England

Date: 1977

Object number: 2007.27.7

Designer: Grenson

This pair of size 8 men’s mustard leather with cream lace shoes were made by Grenson, a British shoe brand. They were bought by the donor in 1977 from Wardrobe, a quality menswear shop in Miller Arcade, Preston. The donor was a big fan of Northern Soul music and went to many club nights across the North West. These wellworn shoes must have seen some vigorous dancing on his nights out!

Gentleman's all wool herringbone overcoat, brown fabric with brown silk lining. Fastens with three buttons.

Gentleman’s wool herringbone overcoat

Date: 1973

Object number: 2000.227

Designer: Burton

This gentleman’s all wool herringbone overcoat was purchased for £22 by the donor from Burton’s Preston shop in 1973. He bought the coat using money that he was given for his twenty first birthday present and wore it on Sundays and for special occasions.

Mannequin wearing Mary Quant matching cream wool long sleeved coat and cape, coat has padded shoulders, a plain cape and a mandarin-style collar.

Mary Quant matching dress and cape

Date: 1966-68

Object number: 1980.11

Designer: Mary Quant Ginger Group

This is a matching cream wool long sleeved coat and cape by Mary Quant’s diffusion Ginger Group label. Few staff at the Harris can claim to be fashion leaders however this was worn in the museum in the 1970s by curator Gillian Tressider. After leaving the museum she donated a number of her fashionable clothes to the Harris to add to the fashion collection!


Mannequin wearing Kameez (top), churidar (trousers) and duppta (scarf) in brown and shades of blue, green, orange and purple with embroidered bead and sequin embellishment in a paisley and floral pattern.

Ladies kameez and churidar

Date: 2008

Object number: 2008.15

This outfit is a classic kameez (long shirt or tunic) with tightly fitting trousers known as churidar. In 2008 the Harris worked with museum trainee Mezhebin Adam to choose a new outfit for the Harris collection. This was purchased by the museum from a shop in Ribbleton as an example of something a young South Asian woman in Preston would wear to a wedding or party

Fancy dress outfit in red silk ‘Rose of Lancaster’

Made: Simpson family of Preston

Date: 1922

Object number: 1974.121

A unique feature of the Harris’s collection are clothes worn to Preston Guild events, and commemorative textiles made to mark this special occasion. The Preston Guild is an ancient civic celebration which takes place every 20 years. Taking place over a week in September, the festivities traditionally include fancy dress balls, pageants and processions on the streets and parks in Preston. Dressing up is a special feature of these events and the Harris cares for many Preston Guild outfits – such as this Rose of Lancaster dress worn to the 1922 Preston Guild Fancy Dress ball by Valerie Simpson aged 11. You can see more of the Harris’s fashion and textile collection on Google’s Art & Culture We Wear Culture website.

High-heeled platform shoes in slashed red silk

Date: 1991

Object number: 2000.203

Designer: Vivienne Westwood

The shoes were part of Vivienne Westwood’s ‘Cut, Slash and Pull’ collection for Spring/Summer 1991. Supermodel Naomi Campbell famously fell over during a fashion show while wearing a pair of blue Vivienne Westwood platform shoes. Lancashire girls are made of stronger stuff – as the donor of these shores wore them wore for nights out dancing in Preston and Blackpool. The Harris cares a huge variety of fashion accessories, including shoes, hats, handbags, fans, jewellery, hair accessories and purses. You will also find a large collection of historic eyewear including spectacles from the 1700 and 1800s in the collection. You can see more of the Harris’s fashion and textile collection on Google’s Art & Culture We Wear Culture website.

Cocktail dress in black, white and yellow printed cotton

Made: Horrockses Fashions

Date: 1953

Object number: 2003.81

The Harris is very lucky to care for over 60 Horrockses Fashions dresses, along with design books and archival material. Horrockses was a Preston-based cotton firm which launched a range of ready-to-wear frocks in 1946. They were cleverly marketed and appealed to everyone from royalty to everyday women around the world. This example is in a fabric designed by Eduardo Paolozzi. Horrockses Fashions sought patterns from many famous artists of the day including Alistair Morton and Pat Albeck – which all contributed to making this fashion label so popular then and now.  You can see more of the Harris’s fashion and textile collection on Google’s Art & Culture We Wear Culture website.

Turban textile sample from The Textile Manufactures of India, volume 1, plate 27

Made: Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

This textile is a very sophisticated example of tie-dying. It is known as bandhani – which comes from the Sanskrit word bandh to bind. Tiny sections of fabric are tightly bound with thread and dip-dyed in stages to create colourful, dotty patterns.

This textile is one of 800 samples from The Textile Manufactures of India – an 18 volume set of books put together in 1866 by John Forbes Watson. Today this collection is admired as a wonderful compendium of South Asian textile heritage. But Forbes Watson’s original aim was more strategic: to show British textile manufacturers the types of fabrics used in South Asia so that UK businesses could sell mass-produced copies to this huge potential market. You can find out more about this story and see all 800 textiles at

Painted Desert

Made: Hull Traders using a design by Althea McNish

Date: 1961

Object number: 2016.7.2

Painted Desert is a stunning textile designed by Althea McNish – a designer of Trinidadian birth who moved to Britain in the 1950s. McNish has been called one of the first British designers of African descent to gain an international reputation. This design was produced for the Lancashire-based textile firm Hull Traders which specialised in hand-screen-printed textiles in the 1960s. Other artist-designed fabrics in the Harris collection include examples by William Gear, Shirley Craven, John Piper and Hans J. Holzer. Textile art pieces include those by Ann Sutton, Juniichi Arai and Liz Nilsson. You can see more of the Harris’s fashion and textile collection on Google’s Art & Culture We Wear Culture website.

Sari in orange fabric with gold embroidery

Made: Unknown maker

Date: 1980s

Object number: 1994.78

This sari has stunning gold embroidery set against vibrant orange – the pattern is concentrated on the part of the fabric where it would be seen on the body. It was purchased by the donor in Preston in the 1980s and later donated to the Harris. During the 1990s the Harris worked on a number of projects to acquire examples of men, women and children’s clothing from the South Asian communities to represent different styles of dress from across this region. The collection includes saris, shalwar kameez and a wide range of jewellery. You can see more of the Harris’s fashion and textile collection on Google’s Art & Culture We Wear Culture website.

waistcoat orange purple ombre woven jacquard

Waistcoat in tones of purple and orange silk

Made: Unknown maker

Date: 1840

Object number: c125

This man’s waistcoat is made from a type of fabric known as a fancy silk because it showcases all the fancy effects textile manufacturers could achieve in the mid-1800s – as technology became more sophisticated. Combined with its neatly tailored shape and high collar, the original wearer of this waistcoat must have cut quite a dash. The Harris has examples of men’s clothing and accessories from the 1700s to modern day – but the largest part of the collection is men’s waistcoats from the 1800s. You can see more of the Harris’s fashion and textile collection on Google’s Art & Culture We Wear Culture website.



Dress in navy blue cotton with ribbon and flower pattern

Designer: Karen Alexander

This dress with fabulous big 1980s shoulder pads was worn by the donor to her wedding at Preston Registry Office. The Harris currently concentrates on collecting examples of post-1950s fashions. We also try to collect personal stories about where an outfit was worn, how it felt to wear it, along with photographs of the wearer at the time. Star items in our collection of 1900s clothing includes a large collection of utility underwear, Horrockses Fashions frocks and the famous yellow dress worn by Pauline in the painting by Sir James Gunn of 1944. You can see more of the Harris’s fashion and textile collection on Google’s Art & Culture We Wear Culture website.

Purple patterned dress with large sleeves

Dress in purple printed cotton with large sleeves

Made: Unknown maker, but from fine woven cotton spun in Lancashire

Date: 1827-38

Object number: co128

The greatest part of the Harris’s fashion collection is made up of women’s clothes from the 1800s. The collection starts with several interesting cotton dresses from the 1820s in fine Lancashire cottons – like this example in shades of purple. In addition to fashionable clothes worn by well-to-do women in every decade of the Victorian age, you will find foundation garments such as underwear, hoops and bustles, and accessories. The Harris also cares for a collection of farmworkers clothing called the Fairclough Collection which straddles the period 1890 to 1950. You can see more of the Harris’s fashion and textile collection on Google’s Art & Culture We Wear Culture website.

Robe and Skirt in Spitalfields Silk

Made: Unknown maker, silk possibly designed by Anna Maria Garthwaite

Date: 1740s-1760s

Object number: co429

The design of this floral silk is typical of the 1740s, but the style of the outfit reflects 1760s fashions. It was typical for clothes in expensive materials like silk to be unpicked and re-sewn into more fashionable styles. Most of the Harris’s fashion collection dates from the 1800s but we have significant examples of earlier clothing. Alongside this Spitalfields silk dress these include a pair of men’s red embroidered slippers from the 1620s and men’s clothing from the 1700s. You can see more of the Harris’s fashion and textile collection on Google’s Art & Culture We Wear Culture website.