Search our collections

Advanced Search

Object: Child’s dress

This image has Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons BY-NC-ND Creative Commons BY-NC-ND copyright licence

Title Child’s dress
Production O'Hara, Winnie (dressmaker), circa 1950s, New Zealand
Materials cotton
Classification dresses
Technique machine sewing
Dimensions Centre Back: 605mm (Length)
Credit line Gift of Shelley Venimore (née O'Brien), 2011
Registration number GH017179

'School' dress

This dress is part of an extraordinary collection of 21 children's dresses and home-made dress-ups worn in the 1950s and 60s by the O'Brien children – Shelley, Maureen, and David. The dresses represent popular girls' fashion from this period, and include a range of home-made garments, and garments made in New Zealand and USA.

The collection embodies the story of the three children growing up in Tinui, a rural community near Castlepoint in the Wairarapa, with all the rituals, triumphs, hardships, and joys of a rural life.

This dress, made by Grandma Winnie O'Hara, was a 'school' dress worn by both Maureen and Shelley. They would have worn it with a cardigan and red shoes or possibly red sandals. Winnie O'Hara made a town dress and a school dress for each girl every year. She was a skilled home-sewer with a reputation for perfection, who did all her sewing on a treadle sewing machine. Some of the dresses were designated school or everyday wear but many were saved for best, or for a trip to town which occurred three or four times a year.

Related information

Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.