A new exhibition in York explores fashion and its influence on body shapes

A new exhibition at York Castle Museum explores how fashion and trends impact the way people shape their bodies.

Work box, 1640-1680, covered in panels of flatwork embroidery depicting the bible story of Rebecca and Eliezer. All the characters are wearing 17th century fashions of Northern Europe
Work box, 1640-1680, covered in panels of flatwork embroidery depicting the bible story of Rebecca and Eliezer. All the characters are wearing 17th century fashions of Northern Europe

The ‘Shaping the body: 400 years of fashion, food and life’ exhibition looks at how people have altered their body over the last four centuries in order to fit in with the fashions.

There will be a number of items on display including pantaloons, body and facial piercings and iron corsets.

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In the early 19th century, women’s fashion favoured a curvaceous silhouette.

Dr Faye Prior prepares pieces for display in the Shaping the Body exhibition at York Castle Museum.

This is why it became commonplace for women to wear corsets underneath their clothing to create the look of a very small waist.

This was then accentuated by a very large skirt with rounded padding to make the hips appear larger.

Other trends that the exhibition explores include the shoulder padding of the 1980s which made shoulders appear broader and the piercing and body modification trends of the punk scene movement.

The second gallery will explore the relationship between food and body shape.

Very fine natural coloured women's straw gloves worked in an open mesh, dating approx. 1800-1850.

In particular, the exhibition will examine how bodies are shaped by lifestyle by looking at the physically arduous lives of farm hands and housemaids.

The museum is open daily from 9.30am until 5pm.

Access to the permanent exhibition is included in the general admission ticket price.

Tickets cost £10 for adults and children aged under 16 go for free with a paying adults.