Saturday, 30 January 2010


There is just something about a nice 1950s cotton summer frock that is irresistable. I have been really lucky recently to come accross four Horrockses dresses. Unfortunately none of them fit me but I can still drool over them! My favourite one is actually in the menders. It is navy and white stripes with a strapless top and a very full skirt complete with bolero jacket and belt. The zip was broken when I got it and I took it to the menders who assured me it would be replaced with another metal zip. Imagine my shock and horror yesterday to find it had been replaced with a cheap nylon one!! Grrrrr! So back it's gone again and hopefully this time it will have the correct zip. I have learnt on my sewing course how to put it a zip in by hand and now I wish I'd done it myself (I was just so scared of ruining such a pretty dress !!). Here are some photos of some of the other ones I have.

This photo below is of the bolero that comes with the striped dress.

I have also just found out that the Fashion and Textile Museum in London is running an exhibition on Horrockses from July 9th - 24th October 2010. It follows the story of the Horrockses dress from initial fabric design, to production, promotion and consumption. I will definately put that in my diary. Also linking up with this exhibition is a new book coming out by Christine Boydell, who is a University lecturer in design history. She is the curator of the upcoming exhibition I just mentioned. Her book is called 'Horrockses Fashion - off the peg fashion in the 40s and 50s'. I have pre ordered this and just can't wait to find out more about these stunning dresses.

I have found some information from the Harris museum webiste in Preston. Horrockses was originally a cotton business which was founded in 1791 and produced sheets, towels and nightdresses. The fashion side of the business - 'Horrockses Fashions Ltd' - was launched in 1946. They designed high quality cotton fabric and made pretty full skirted frocks. The fabric designs were not for sale elsewhere and were used exclusively for Horrockses fashion. A finish was put on the dresses known as 'quintafix' to give them crispness. They would produce limited quantities of each garment and their price was equivalent to a weeks wages (£4- £7 at the time) so the dresses had a sense of exclusivity about them! They were also very selective with which retailers could stock their clothes. Many women would save up for them and would often wear them as agoing away outfit. The Queen wore several Horrockses dresses on her 1953 Caribbean tour.

In 1964 the brand was sold and the label continued until 1983 but it never recpatured its heyday of the 1950s until the name gradually faded from the limelight.

I think there is something special about those 1950s Horrockses dresses and apparently many women of that era thought so too and have kept their dresses. Often the ones appearing in exhibitions are from private owners. I just need to find one that will fit me now!!


  1. I never knew Horrockses mad dresses - I have some quite old sheets mad by them, though.
    Reading thsi made me think of a book I read recently - The Palace of Strange Girls by Sallie Day. It is about cotton workers from Lancashire on their annual summer weeks break in Blackpool and has lots about 50's fashion, seaside and textiles in it.

  2. Hi - just found your blog via Country Girl - am also a near blogging neighbour :)

  3. The book sounds great, just the sort of thing I'm into! Nice to meet other local bloggers too- hopefully might meet you properly at some of the fairs this summer.

  4. I love the middle dress - very pretty! x