#CSFashionhour, Costume Society Ambassadors, Costume Society  |  January 19, 2016

#CSFashionHour: The first 10 months

In April 2015 the Costume Society launched a new initiative - #CSFashionHour: a monthly Twitter Hour discussion dedicated to all things costume and fashion. On the first Friday of every month since we have led these conversations on Twitter, kindly hosted by experts from the costume world. In this blog post, I will look back over the first 10 months of #CSFashionHour, picking out some highlights from our monthly sessions and exploring which topics generated the most discussion. 

As you will be aware if you have joined in with #CSfashionhour, the conversations are open to all and we encourage questions and comments from anyone who wishes to take part. It has been great to see how many people have got involved each month, taking a little time out of their busy days to discuss everything from hot-pants and shoulder-pads to frocks, films and fashion blogs. Twitter analytics tell us we have gone from 5769 ‘organic impressions’ on the first day of #CSFashionHour, to an amazing 16,202 during the most recent discussion in January!

In the first 5 months of #CSFashionHour we covered some wonderfully varied subjects. The very first conversation, hosted by Dr Benjamin Wild, was titled ‘Discussing Men’s Dress’, and addressed many of the themes and issues that surround men’s fashion, past and present. One highlight of that conversation was a discussion of the influence that a certain shirtless, scythe wielding TV character (Poldark) may have on men’s fashion, with Benjamin hypothesising the re-emergence of Tricorn hats as a fashionable option for the modern-day man.

The second session was hosted by two ambassadors, Bethan Bide and Lucie Whitmore, on subjects close to their hearts, fashion in the Second and First World Wars. The June discussion, Costume on Stage & Screen, was hosted by Pauline Loven and ambassador Lauren Martin, and provoked an interesting discussion about the workload taken on by costume designers. The July theme tied in with the Costume Society Conference: Gold, while in August the subject was far more humble, a discussion of working and working-class dress hosted by two PhD students, Jen Evans & Jenny Roberts.

We were thrilled that The History Wardrobe Team, Lucy Adlington and Meredith Townes could host the September session, and they picked the theme Power Dressing. This sparked a lively debate about whether certain garments truly enable power (think shoulder pads and high heels), or whether power is in the way we feel when we wear our chosen clothes. In October we focused on underwear, with Costume Society blog editor and underwear specialist Lorraine H Smith as the host. This was one of the busiest #CSFashionHours and saw many new voices joining the conversation. This was an especially visual session, with some beautiful historic underwear images proving very popular! (See a Storify of the Tweets here) In both November and December we were lucky to have very specialised and knowledgeable guest hosts. Shelley Tobin, costume curator of Killerton House and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum hosted the November session alongside ex-ambassador EJ Scott – leading a fascinating discussion about costume in historic houses. It was especially interesting to hear from Shelley and other specialists about the conservation challenges faced when working in historic properties, with many complicated environmental factors to consider. In December we talked pockets, patches, mends, darns, labels and all the other ‘hidden’ elements of clothing with the John Bright Collection. This was a great chance to see more of their amazing collection of costumes for stage and screen, including some beautiful Ballet Russes garments, and lots of people joined in by tweeting pictures of their favourite clothing labels.

Our most recent #CSFashionHour was fantastic – a really dynamic discussion of fashion writing with hosts Lorraine H Smith and Bethan Bide. It was great to see so many people taking part, sharing links and recommending a variety of fashion reads. (See a Storify of the Tweets here) We hope that #CSFashionHour will continue to grow in popularity each month, it has become a really diverse and exciting forum for discussion, and allows anybody in the world to communicate directly with costume experts. We are always looking for hosts as well as participants, so if you are an expert on any area of fashion, costume and textiles and fancy hosting a Twitter conversation on your subject, please do get in touch!

Lucie Whitmore, Costume Society Ambassador & #CSFashionHour Coordinator

  • Participants tweeted their favourite labels during the December #CSFashionHour © Museum of Edinburgh, photo by Lucie Whitmore.
  • Tweets from the January #CSFashionHour
  • #CSFashionHour ‘trends’ on Twitter, December 2015.