100 years since women secured the vote

This Saturday will mark a century since the Reform Act was passed by Parliament enabling women to vote for the first time. The owners at The Costume Company, based in Arkesden near Saffron Walden, are marking the occasion by donning period dress of the suffragettes whose brave actions secured the vote, and encouraging others to step into the shoes of their historical heroines in celebration.

Amanda Crabb and Jemma Macfadyen run The Costume Company, a treasure trove of vintage costumes and fancy-dress outfits and accessories for adults and children all of which are available to hire. The Company do pantomimes, theatre groups, Goodwood Revival, military uniforms, film and TV characters, historical costumes and everything in between, including the iconic violet, white and green sashes of suffragettes

L to R: Victoria Collier, Jemma Macfadyen, Mary Loram QC

Jemma, said:

“As founders of a new business, we’re are keen to celebrate the role of women in all parts of life whether in politics, corporate life or juggling life’s responsibilities wearing period costume! With 100 years having passed since some women could vote for the first time, we thought it fitting to don some period costume to show our support for those women who campaigned for this basic right of democracy.

“British Suffragettes with their straw hats and ribbons have become an iconic image over the past century. Initially they were mostly women from upper and middle-class backgrounds but the movement then grew to include larger groups of men and women.

Amanda, explains the reason behind the recognisable dress. She said:

“It was important that these women were seen to be well-dressed so as not to challenge the accepted notions of femininity and reduce their support. Our suffragette look typifies what ladies would have worn in the early part of 20th century. Straw hats were popular and embellished with ribbons, flowers and foliage. Lace blouses were an extremely important part of a lady's wardrobe; they were worn with a long, plain skirt or with two-piece suits. The buttoned boot continued to be a favourite with Louis heels enabling ladies to show their shapely ankles.

“In 1908 the colour scheme of violet, white and green was adopted: violet to signify dignity, white was for purity and green to represent hope and these colours were used on banners, flags and rosettes and even used in jewellery.”

“We all felt proud to adopt the look of this brave group of women, whose actions had such huge influence on our lives today and we encourage others to take a minute on Saturday and throughout this centenary year to pay tribute to their incredible actions.”

The Costume Company is based in Arkesden, near Saffron Walden and appointments can be booked online www.thecostumeco.co.uk.

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