Dressed: Fashionable dress in Aotearoa New Zealand 1840 to 1910

By Claire Regnault

Publication: May 2021
Pages: 456
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-9941460-6-9

NZ RRP (incl. GST): $70.00

Buy Dressed:

This richly illustrated and lively social history explores the creation, consumption and spectacle of fashionable dress in Aotearoa New Zealand from 1840 to the early 1900s. Dressmakers were essential contributors to the development of New Zealand, and as a colonial outpost of the British Empire, New Zealand’s 19th century dress culture was heavily shaped by international trends. Interactions with Māori, the demands of settler lifestyle and the country’s geography all added another layer.

Dressed: Fashionable dress in Aotearoa New Zealand 1840 to 1910 teems with the fascinating, busy lives of early businesswomen, society women and civic figures. Featuring dresses and fashionable accessories from museums throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, and including over 300 images, this major book makes a significant contribution to histories of colonial dress.


Winner of the 2022 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards – Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand Award for Illustrated Non-Fiction.

From the judges:

“Even those who believe themselves to be without interest in either clothing or our history will be seduced by Dressed. Readers will find themselves transported to other worlds, populated by people, indigenous and immigrant, both heartachingly familiar and surprisingly exotic. Beautifully illustrated and deeply researched, it is the complete package. Dressed is a valuable addition to our nation’s story and a great example of the possibilities of historical enquiry and non-fiction publishing.”

Covenor of judges Chanel Clarke:

“Particularly outstanding this year are a number of well-researched yet not so well-known histories and herstories, beautifully delivered, that invite surprising new understandings of ourselves. Dressed: Fashionable Dress in Aotearoa New Zealand 1840 to 1910 by Claire Regnault is a beautiful and beguiling book that will seduce a wide audience.”

Review highlights

  • Author Deborah Challinor chose Dressed as one of her book picks on Bookmarks on RNZ.

  • The New Zealand Journal of History, by Lorinda Cramer. “Regnault’s compelling book moves from the deeply intimate out to the networks of empire, demonstrating how dress histories hold the potential to open up richly layered and sometimes-unexpected aspects of the past.”

  • Sunday Star-Times, reviewed by Samantha Murray Greenway. “Authentic tales of real-life costume drama.”

  • Fashion Theory, reviewed by Beverly Lemire. “This sumptuous volume should be in all major institutional and personal libraries. Its deeply conceived analyses of dress, rich rendering of material evidence, and thoughtful assessment of fashion, in a dynamic colonial environment, make this a standout study. The impact of New Zealand scholarship is, happily, extending well beyond its geographic boundaries.”

  • The Journal of Dress History, reviewed by Jennifer Daley. “Capturing the fashionable dress history of New Zealand during much of Queen Victoria 1901, the book covers the breadth and depth of fashions and accessories with wonderful, colourful images to support the research. Dressed is a significant and insightful contribution to our knowledge of colonial dress in New Zealand.”

  • The Spinoff, reviewed by Sam Brooks. “Dressed makes an argument that judging a book by its (quilted, soft, seriously lovely) cover is not only fitting, but perhaps appropriate. By looking at what people wore, in what context, and why they wore it, we can learn endless amounts. It’s more than gowns, beautiful gowns, it’s history, beautiful history.

  • Unity Books, reviewed by Jennifer Shennan. “… this major book makes a significant contribution to histories of colonial dress.”

  • Good magazine, reviewed by Carolyn Enting. “… an exquisite tome that will delight both historians and fashionistas.”

  • NZ Booklovers, reviewed by Karen McMillan. “Dressed brings to life fashionable dresses and their wearers in New Zealand from 1840 to 1910 with a great deal of style with stunning photographs and lively text.”

  • NZ Geographic and FashioNZ on Te Papa’s Feathermania exhibition.

Author interviews

  • Aroha Awarau interviewed Claire for a feature in New Zealand Women’s Weekly.

  • Stuff, How I write: Ockham Awards winner Claire Regnault.

  • Claire discusses the project with FashioNZ.

  • Lynn Freeman interviewed Claire Regnault for RNZ Standing Room Only.

About the author

Claire Regnault is Senior Curator New Zealand Culture and History at Te Papa and has worked as a curator in the art gallery and museum sector since 1994. Her curatorial practice is eclectic in nature and she is particularly passionate about New Zealand’s fashion history. She is the author of New Zealand Gown of the Year (2003), and co-author, with Douglas Lloyd Jenkins and Lucy Hammonds of The Dress Circle: New Zealand Fashion Design Since 1940 (2010), which was a finalist in the 2011 NZ Post Book Awards. She is an active member of the Costume & Textile Association of New Zealand, and regularly contributes to the association’s symposia and journal.

Publication: May 2021
Pages: 456
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-9941460-6-9

NZ RRP (incl. GST): $70.00

Buy Dressed: