Destined for landfill: What to do with an Edwardian lingerie dress

I have a confession to make.

I’ve had this gorgeous Edwardian (is it, or is it a bit later? Can an expert jump in and impart their wisdom please?) lingerie dress in my possession for seven months now.

Seven months in which it’s been admired, tried on, carefully hung up and hastily put back in the wardrobe to keep it safe.

So I’ve decided now is the time to at least photograph it and share it with you all so I can’t chicken out of doing something with it. *Gulp*

vintage edwardian day dress


One of my best friend’s grandma passed away last summer and during the house clearance a heap of clothes and accessories were destined for the charity shop or the skip.

This was one of those that were due to head to landfill due to it being old fashioned and a little knocked around the edges.

Luckily my friend (Shona) alerted her mum to my love for all things old and unusual and had it put to one side for me.

vintage edwardian day dress top close-up

FRILLING STUFF: Neck and bodice detailing

When I was sent this dress, along with a heap of other lovely things, Shona’s mum enclosed a letter which gave it a bit of context.

Her mum was born in 1924 and wore the dress as a young woman. But it doesn’t look typical of a late 1930s or 1940s dress which makes me think perhaps it was a hand-me-down that belonged to either an elder sister or her mum?

As I wrote earlier – if you can shed any light on this please do get in touch!


I love the tiered sleeves and the detailing on the cuffs, waistband and around the neckline – very elegant!vintage edwardian day dress sleeve close-up

Just look at the detailing on the sheer skirt… good job there’s a slip under there!

vintage edwardian day dress skirt close-up

SHEER DELIGHT: Patterned skirt detailing

Apart from a bit of floral peach decoration coming loose on the front of the dress, it’s not looking too bad considering it’s at least 70 years old.

Round the back isn’t in bad nick either, though one problem you’ll be able to spot straight away is that my friend’s grandma was much more petite than I am (especially around the bust area!)

vintage edwardian day dress back detailing

REET PETITE: Previous owner was a little smaller than I am

Someone’s had a go at repairing something on the inside of the dress using this *ahem* subtle scarlet thread.

vintage edwardian day dress repairs

SUBTLE: Scarlet-coloured repair

…And the peach bows at the waistline at the back have certainly seen better days, but nothing that a needle and thread (or a pair of scissors) can’t sort out.

vintage edwardian da dress peach bow damage

JUST PEACHY: Bow detailing at the waist

These cotton french knickers also came in this parcel of joy, aren’t they fancy?

vintage french knickers

FRENCH FANCY! Lacy french knickers

Just look at the frilly edging on these bad boys!

vintage french knickers close up

PRETTY: Lacy detailing

I was originally thinking of transforming the dress into two parts – a top, or cropped jacket and a skirt so they can be worn together or as separates.

But the more I look at it, it makes me think that putting scissors and needle and thread to it would be a shame and perhaps the best place for it is in a museum.

What do you think? What would you do?


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9 Responses to Destined for landfill: What to do with an Edwardian lingerie dress

  1. Maralyn says:

    I should think it Edwardian. I think my Nana told me it was custom to sew some red thread somewhere to ward off evil. Don,t know if this is the case here. I would also make 2 piece out of it as have done so before to good effect. Can,t wait to see the pics.

  2. Amy says:

    Wow! Amazing. I agree it’s future should be as fancy separates!

  3. Janey says:

    Oh, this is a tough one!

    For me, personally, I would sell it either to a shop or to someone I knew if there was interest in it from one of those parties in keeping it in its current state. If there is no interest, then take the scissors to it.


  4. Another option is to donate it to a local theater company, a high school’s theater department, or a fashion department at a school (for construction reference)

  5. ksgentry says:

    I don’t think I would have the heart to part with it or chop it up. Display it proudly and perhaps one day you can pass it on. It is so beautiful!

  6. What a lovely thing. it does look very Belle Epoque to me. It seems a shame to chop it up but if you will wear it then its much better than it being stowed away in a box unloved. x

  7. Rosalind says:

    It was first designated for a skip….aaaarrrghhhh! thank goodness it was rescued and parceled up in your direction. What a beauty and so very special to have the personal connection of the back story of ownership.
    I think I would be tempted to wear it as is, with a long white vest or camisole under, with the back left open – as on the mannequin, and a belt to keep in place and a waistcoat to cover the back but keep the sleeves on show and chelsea boots. That would keep it in one piece initially, and it could still be taken apart and made into skirt and top at a later time.

  8. SJP says:

    Oh gosh, I would struggle to take a pair of scissors to it! Like you I would probably hang on to it for a long time before making a decision, but I think you should either go for it or perhaps pass it on to someone else? The bloomers on the other hand would look very Cochella with a pair of tan ankle boots and a cute top.

  9. Anne W says:

    It is gorgeous, and at first I was going to suggest cutting it to make a top – but then again, there are so few of these in decent, original condition.. Maybe it needs to go to somewhere where it can be looked after & displayed for educational purposes. Or back in the wardrobe to be looked at again in a few months! :)

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