Culture Heritage Learning

Fashionably Edinburgh: 11 bold looks through the ages

We recently visited our pals at Edinburgh Central Library to showcase imagery capturing the changing fashions in Edinburgh and the Lothians. Here are some of our favourites:


1. Lord Darnley and Mary Queen of Scots, 1565 with the lavishly decorated clothes you would expect from royalty at this time. Mary is looking distinctly uncomfortable in her expensive lace ruff and cuffs. She would have been wearing a hooped skirt and fitted bodice.







2. A formal mantua from around 1760. It was probably worn by Mary Holt, wife of the 7th Earl of Haddington and may have been worn at the wedding of King George III to Queen Charlotte in 1761. The dress was made of blue and white French silk and the hoop would have been made of whalebone or supple wood.





3. Sisters Janet and Christian Steuart pose for a photograph in their ball dresses at their grandfather’s summer residence in Mount Esk, Lasswade, Midlothian, in 1892.








4. A page from a 1909 issue of Strathtay House Fashion Magazine, showcasing Adam Smail’s outfitting business









5. Grace Murray and William James Slee, a railway engine driver, on their wedding day in Edinburgh, 1923.Note the stiff winged collar shirt, which is very formal by this date, and the cloth gaiter spats above William’s boots, which by this date are old-fashioned. Grace’s dress is straight, as it was not fashionable to emphasise curves at this time.






6. Queue sale at Patrick Thomson’s, Edinburgh, 1954.







7. Hat Show at Greensmith Downes, Edinburgh, 1959. ThisPrimrose’ hat was designed by Christian Dior.







8. An Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society (SCWS) mannequin parade in Links Place in 1959. The model wears a suit made popular by The Beatles.






9. A line up of the competitors at the Capital Queen bathing contest at Portobello swimming pool, Edinburgh, 1969. Note the emergence of the bikini!







10. Customers (or staff) outside an unidentified clothes shop selling a lot of denim – Cockburn Street Edinburgh in June 1973. Bellbottom heaven.







11. Punks and a Cyberman walking up Lothian Road to publicise the 20th anniversary Dr Who exhibition at the Filmhouse cinema in Edinburgh, December 1983.




We have lots more fantastic fashion photos on Scran – take a look at our fashion Pathfinders to browse themed collections.

Images © The Scotsman, National Museums Scotland, Dundee Libraries & Hulton Getty| Licensor Scran


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