This dress is significant as the earliest labelled David Jones outfit in the museum's collection. It was made by David Jones in Sydney about 1895. Established in 1838, David Jones is the oldest department store in the world still trading today.
By 1880, fashionable ready-made clothing could be bought from city department stores like David Jones and Anthony Horderns. Alternatively, a length of fabric could be bought and made up into an outfit like this one for the customer. Ready-made clothing came to dominate the market over time.
This day dress is characteristic of women's costumes during the 1890s. The flat-fronted skirt with a train at the back creates a flowing line and the boned bodice and puffed sleeves aim to emphasise the hour-glass shape that was popular at the time. Trimmings and ornamentation include handmade rosettes on the elbows, and bronze beads and sequins decorating the waistband and sleeves of the dress.
Mr David Jones, a Welsh-born immigrant, set up his business with the aim of selling "the best and most exclusive goods" and carrying "a stock that embraces the everyday wants of mankind at large". The dress is part of an important collection of clothing sold by David Jones stores that assists in documenting the company's history. Garments include a wedding dress of 1938 (A10208), a women's aviation suit (99/10/1), a women's silk suit of about 1910 (99/91/1) and a men's three piece suit (2006/68/1). All these garments were tailor made for customers at a time when the department store still offered a full and partial dressmaking and tailoring service.
Michelle Brown, 2007
David Jones, 'Story of David Jones', accessed http: http://www.davidjones.com.au/about/story_of_djs.jsp, viewed 02/10/2007