Young Explorers: Dressing Room

Charles Dickens was very lively and energetic and his clothing reflected this. He loved jewellery and brightly coloured waistcoats and was very proud of his curly hair! He enjoyed shopping and chose his clothes very carefully so that he would stand out from the crowd. Have a look at this piece of Charles’s clothing from the museum and find out a bit more!


Catherine also liked to dress well. Women’s fashion was heavily influenced by Queen Victoria, who came to throne in 1837, just around the time Charles and Catherine were moving into this house. Dresses at this time often had wide, long skirts supported by lots of layers of petticoats. It was fashionable to have an impossibly narrow waist! Women tried to achieve this by wearing a special undergarment called a corset. Corsets were tightly laced, to try to squeeze in a lady’s waist as much as possible. Unsurprisingly, this tight squeezing led to many women feeling ill and even fainting!

Accessories were also important to looking good, like this bracelet which belonged to Catherine.

Snake bracelet owned by Catherine Dickens, 1840s - 1850s 
© Charles Dickens Museum

Jewellery was not only a fashion statement – often it had special meanings. In her will, Catherine left this bracelet to her daughter, Katey, showing her feelings for her. The coiled snake symbolised eternity, the turquoise symbolised love and the rubies symbolised strength.

Do any of your clothes or accessories mean anything special to you?

Click here to have a go at our activity to see some other Victorian fashions! 

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