INFLUENCES ON COSTUME

  • Royalty, Nobility and Gentry
  • Manufacturers
  • Laws and taxes
  • Welsh nationalism
  • Fashion

Costume styles depend on the age, class, occupation and the good sense and pride of the wearer; tradition and fashion and the cost, availability, comfort and convenience of fabrics.  There were other influences such as the effect Royalty and others had on what was worn, and the status or distinctiveness which the wearer wished to advertise by wearing a special costume.

It seems likely that the Welsh costume survived because women chose to wear their best costume when selling their goods at market. There is no suggestion that religion as such influenced women’s costume in Wales but best Welsh costumes were worn at chapel and church by women during the middle of the 19th century, and some continued to do so up to the end of the century. There is no tradition that any detail of the costume had to change when a woman became a widow (as is the case is some countries), nor is there any evidence that working women in Wales were expected to wear black or lilac for a specified time after the death of a family member. It seems very likely that older women continued to wear their best Welsh costume which they had purchased when young (although there is no evidence that the tailored bedgowns were altered to fit a fuller figure) and lent them to their daughters for special occasions, throughout the 19th century and daughters and granddaughters continued to wear them alongside modern versions into the 20th century.

The influences which worked against the wearing of Welsh costume were fashion and mass-production of new, cheaper fabrics. Welsh costume was originally cheap because it was made at home, but expensive in terms of the time required to produce it in this way. Some maid-servants, especially those who worked away from home would have worn clothes which their employers cast-off and these would have influenced their relatives and friends when they went home. Costume was also influenced by industrialisation (resulting in special work costumes), urbanisation (allowing greater access to fashions and accessories and trimmings) and the gradual end of home produced fabrics.

 

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