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H7423 Day dress, womens, silk brocade / faille / glass beads / sequins / metal, made by David Jones Pty Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, owned by Mrs Grimley, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 1890 - 1900. Click to enlarge.

Women’s late 19th century day dress and exchange sleeves

Made by David Jones Limited in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c.1895.
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:, viewed 02/10/2007


Object No.


Object Statement

Day dress, womens, silk brocade / faille / glass beads / sequins / metal, made by David Jones Pty Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, owned by Mrs Grimley, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 1890 - 1900

Physical Description

A day dress made from russet coloured silk and silk brocade. The dress consists of two pieces the bodice and skirt. Accompanying the dress is a pair of 3/4 length exchange sleeves trimmed with cream lace. The dress has been machine sewn and hand finished. It features a form fitting bodice, shaped with 13 internal bones and an interior waist band. The bodice, which fastens down the front, has long leg-of-mutton sleeves that have been trimmed with bronze coloured beads. The skirt of the dress is long and full with a train at the back. A 'David Jones' label appears in the skirt and bodice. Another label with the owners name on it can be seen sewn inside the bodice.



By the 1860s, advances in textile technology in Europe and America had made available a wider, cheaper range of fabrics, and the sewing machine, first patented in America in 1834, was in general use. While the machine made dressmaking easier, quicker and thus cheaper, the time saved in sewing seams was gradually taken up in creating dresses more complex in cut and construction and covered in a profusion of trimmings, embroidery and ornamentation.

This silk and silk brocade dress is trimmed with handmade rosettes and bronze beading. Made by David Jones Pty Ltd in the 1890s, it is machine sewn and hand finished, and has spare ¾-length sleeves for the evening. The skirt of this costume hooks on to metal eyelets at the back underside of the waist band, so that the bodice supports its weight. During the 1890s boning in the dress bodice was common, aimed at creating the desired hour-glass shape, and this bodice features thirteen internal bones. Also characteristic of this period are the puffed sleeves and flat-fronted skirt gathered at the back waistline.



This dress was worn by Mrs Amy Grimley, an ancestor of the donor. Amy Sparrow married Frank Grimley at St Peter's Anglican Church, Sydney on September 19 1887. Frank Grimley (1853?-1930) was a Sydney based hardware merchant and coachbuilder who by the mid 1890s was the largest wholesaler in the trade.

Ref: Australian Dictionary of Biography,


Credit Line

Gift of Miss Dora Grimley, 1964

Acquisition Date

19 February 1964

Cite this Object


Women's late 19th century day dress and exchange sleeves 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 11 August 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Women's late 19th century day dress and exchange sleeves |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=11 August 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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