MAIDS’ and NANNIES UNIFORMS
Title: Joce and Gill at Home
Film-maker: Joseph Emberton
The women in the foreground are wearing maids’ outfits typical of the period and consist of a long-sleeved black knee-length dress, crisp white collar, apron and cap with a black ribbon threaded through it. In the background, women are seen wearing uniforms typical for Nannies in the era. They are wearing light-coloured dresses with white cuffs and aprons and a cloche-style hat with a dark ribbon band. This style of nanny uniform is similar to the ones worn by nannies from Norland college.
Livery for women was first introduced in the nineteenth century. Prior to this maids had worn a combination of different outfits depending upon what they could afford, make for themselves or were given by their mistresses. The introduction of a uniform developed out of the need to differentiate the class and status of gentlewomen from their accompanying servants. The V&A Prints Archive has a photograph by Bill Brandt entitled ‘Parlourmaid and Under-Parlourmaid Ready to Serve Dinner’ (1933) (Pressmark: EDUC.6)
Title: Bathing Beauties
Film-maker: Ralph Staley
This film shows the Staley family’s nursemaid. She wears a dark coloured dress with a white apron that has a small standing collar and covers the front portion of the body. She also wears white cuffs and a white nurse’s cap. The clothing would have been made of a washable material to maintain scrupulous hygiene.
Many middle and upper class families had a nursemaid. In the 1930s, the silhouette of nursemaids’ uniforms adhered to the fashionable line, but was also influenced by hospital uniforms.