The Ulster Museum's collection of fashionable dress is over twenty-five years old, recreated after the former collection was destroyed in a fire. We have taken the opportunity to build a distinctive new collection, collecting mainstream fashionable dress systematically from as early as possible (effectively from the early eighteenth century) to the present day.
Since we collect dress as one of the most vital of the applied arts, showing the changes in fashionable taste, the collection is predominantly of women's dress, which after the end of the 18th century changed more dramatically than men's dress.
The historic collections are especially strong in the eighteenth century. One of the most impressive pieces is the cut velvet and metal thread suit worn by the 'Black Rod' of the Irish Houses of Parliament in 1751 and we have a number of very fine women's outfits of mid-18th century Spitalfields silk. There are examples of women's dress of almost every year of the 19th century.