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Dinah Vincent

Doctor of Philosophy, (Fashion Studies)
Study Completed: 2018
College of Creative Arts


Thesis Title
Dressmaking: How clothing practices made girls in New Zealand, 1945 to 1965

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

It is commonly understood that domestic dressmaking has been widely practised to a high standard by New Zealand girls in the twentieth century. Despite this, little scholarly research exists to understand how these skills were acquired and what the practice meant. An emerging body of international work suggests such research yields rich insights to the female experience. Ms Vincent identified the period from 1945 to 1965 as a time when every girl who went to a state school had sewing classes for at least three years. She recreated the practice by combining that universal school experience with personal stories from 15 oral history interviews, contextualised with archival and object research. In addition, she synthesised multiple critical perspectives to understand dressmaking as a domestic, school, and fashion practice. Her findings suggest dressmaking affected home life, family relationships, and school experiences. As well as shaping girls' clothing, dressmaking shaped their way of being.

Professor Vicki Karaminas
Dr Caroline Campbell
Associate Professor Bronwyn Labrum