Child's Formal Dress and Accessories

Contributed by: The Cavalcade of History and Fashion Inc.

Front view of  child's bridesmaid gown Bodice detail of Bridesmaid Gown Sleeve details Skirt detail Bonnet Lace detail on Bonnet Inside bonnet Slippers Slippers Shows staining to upper bodice lining Fastenings down the centre back of garment
  • Australian dress register ID:

  • Owner:

    The Cavalcade of History and Fashion Inc.
  • Owner registration number:

  • Date range:

    1913 - 1915
  • Place of origin:

    Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Gender:

    Female, Child
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Object information

Significance statement

A charming group of three items of cream silk satin, embellished with ruching and pearls. The dress is thought to be a flower girls dress, which has matching shoes and bonnet. Hope who is thought to be the wearer of these items was three at the time of her Aunts wedding in Sydney's St James Church June 24,1913, reported in the S.M.H. June 28th.

Hope was a well known identity in the Roseville community and was the President of the Federal Association of Teachers of Dance for three decades.

During her years as a dance instructor Hope taught thousands of students. In the 1950s she prepared many a young lady and gentleman for the then popular Debutante Ball. She continued to teach dancing to students from some of the many private schools until she was well into her 70s.

Hope was almost 90 years of age before she stopped her community participation - a very inspiring lady.Hope passed away in April 2003 at the age of 92.

Author: Jeanette Moles, September 2010.


Three Pieces

Silk satin flower girls gown with bonnet and slippers.

Cream satin gown with three different laces trimming the hem, neck, sleeve and bib front.

Wide scooped neck with ties at centre back.

High waisted design.

Band at base of the bodice is 25mm in width.

Skirt is, knife pleated to the bodice.

Laces Type & Location

Metallic ground lace (44mm) is used on the hem of the skirt as well as on the neck line from the centre back opening to front and around the bib front rouched section and then continuing to finish at the back neck opening.

Fine ground net recessed into edge of sleeve is 55mm at point of scalloped edge.

Coarser ground neck edge lace 30mm is placed around the neck opening, which is then finished with a narrow bias facing. This lace sits up and out of the neck edge.

History and Provenance

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

Hope was born August 1910.Her full name Esther Hope Ryrie

In about 1937-38 Hope attended the Victor Sylvester Dance Studio in London for approximately one year and came back to Sydney to become a popular dance instructor. She was very active in the Federal Association of Teachers of Dance being their President for three decades. There is also an advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 27th May 1950 which states that she is a fellow of The Imperial Society Teachers of Dancing.

Hope never married. She was well known in and around the Roseville community. She played tennis at Roseville and bridge at the Queens Club; she did voluntary work with Red Cross and helped at Meals on Wheels.

During her years as a dance instructor Hope taught thousands of students. In the 1950s she prepared many a young lady and gentleman for the then popular Debutante Ball. She continued to teach dancing to students from some of the many private schools until she was well into her 70s.

Hope was almost 90 years of age before she stopped her community participation - a very inspiring lady.Hope passed away in April 2003 at the age of 92.

Do you have any stories or community information associated with this?

It is thought that Hope who would have been the correct age to have worn this garment to the wedding of her mother's sister Dorothy Vivenne Roberts. Dorothy married Bernard Blythman on the 24th June 1913 and the occasion was well documented in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Details of the marriage were reported in the Herald on the 28th June 1913. Hopes' older sister Theodora was part of the Wedding party and wore a gown of cream satin, veiled with emerald green ninon.

Esther Hope Ryrie (known as Hope Ryrie) was a descendant of William and Esther Hovell. William being one of Australia's most noted early explorers.

Hope was the grand daughter of Charles Fyshe Roberts (1837-1914) aide -de-camp to Governor Young and also aide-de-camp to three sovereigns. Her grand mother Alice Caroline Roberts was the daughter of William Bradley and Emily Elizabeth Bradley (nee Hovell).

Hopes' father was Vincent Wallace Ryrie who was a member of a significant pioneering family in the Monaro district.

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

The Roberts family (Hope's grandparents) at the time were very much part of the social set in Sydney. The wedding reports at this time in the Social columns give lengthy detail of the bridal parties garments, also of the grooms gifts to both the bride and the bridesmaids and the names of the prominent people attending the wedding. The decoration of the church also is extensively recorded.

Sentiment played a large part in the weddings of the time and it is noted that the lace trimming on Hope's gown has a motive of lilly of the valley

It is recorded in the marriage report that the bride wore a Honiton lace veil ,which had previously been worn by her mother. The bride's bouquet was made up of orchards, lilly of the valley and roses.

As an indication of the family's status it mentions that at the conclusion of the ceremony the guests adjourned to the Hotel Australia, where Colonel and Mrs Roberts held a reception and entertained about 150 guests.

The quality of the garment, bonnet and especially made shoes indicate a prosperous lifestyle.

Where did this information come from?

Sydney Morning Herald 28th June 1913

This garment has been exhibited

During the time that the Cavalcade of History and Fashion have had the garment in the collection ,it has been displayed and exhibited . One such display being the Sydney Craft Fair June 27th to July 1st 2007 held in the Exhibition Building Sydney.

  1. Place of origin:

    Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Owned by:

    Esther Hope Vincent Ryrie born in August 1910, the youngest of three children. Her siblings were Theodora Vincent Ryrie and Bradley Vincent Ryrie. The family lived on the Ryrie family property Arnprior near Braidwood.

    Hope's early life appears to be that of a member of a previleged family.

    Her love of dance in her younger years formed her future life. After studying at the Victor Sylvester Studios in London. Hope returned to Australia to teach dance until she was well into her senior years.

  3. Worn by:

    Esther Hope Vincent Ryrie known as Hope

  4. Occasion(s):

    Most likely the wedding of her mother's sister Dorothy Vivien Roberts and Bernard Blythman.

  5. Place:

    St James Church King Street Sydney

  6. Made for:

    Hope Ryrie

Trimmings / Decoration


Net ground with a metallic thread floral pattern (Lilly of The Valley) Hand made bobbin lace on sleeves & neckline.

Fibre / Weave

Main Fabric of possibly silk satin, satin weave gives the lustre. Fibre possibly silk.

The skirt is backed with with an open plain weave organdie.

The bodice and sleeves are backed with Cotton fabric with a durable twill weave.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


The entire garment is sewn by hand mainly however, for strength the four skirt seams are sewn with a chain stitch by machine.

Hand overcasting has been used throughout to finish all raw edges.

The assembly of the skirt to the bodice at the raised waistline is completely by hand.


None applied.


None evident at all. Garment and related pieces appear to be in their original condition

  1. Hand sewn
  2. Machine sewn
  3. Knitted
  4. Other


All pieces are cut on straight grain.

  1. Bias
  2. Straight


Seven hooks and eyes fasten the centre back opening of the dress.

A drawstring has been used to secure the neckline and also fastens at the Centre Back.

  1. Hook and eye
  2. Lacing
  3. Buttons
  4. Zip
  5. Drawstring

Stiffening / Lining / Padding

The bodice, sleeves are backed with organdie and the skirt is backed with cotton with a twill weave. Possibly these backings have been used to help the garment design and shape to be maintained.


Neck 560 mm
Chest 580 mm
Waist 547 mm
Hem circumference 1830 mm
Front neck to hem 665 mm
Front waist to hem 503 mm
Back neck to hem 645 mm
Back waist to hem 500 mm
Sleeve length 160 mm
Neck to sleeve head 60 mm
Cross back 243 mm
Underarm to underarm 260 mm
Fabric width 53 mm
Convert to inches

Gown has two sets of measurements, the first set are taken on the inside of the garment and the second on the outside.

Gown features a wide scoop neckline,

Gown is high waisted

Hips are the same width as the hem due to the styling of the high waist.

Bonnet Measurements:

Face measurement 358 mm.

Neck Measurement 317 mm.

Horshoe crown : Height at centre is 120 mm

Width across back neck is 95 mm.

Slippers: Toe to heel 170 mm. measured with shoe standing upright.

Upper instep 78 mm.


The Powerhouse museum collection has a Day dress(86/1010) worn by Esther Hovell(nee Arndell) wife of William Hovell c.1835.

In the history notes it states the following:

The dress was later altered and worn by the donor's cousin,Hope Ryrie, to a fancy dress party at Vaucluse House ,19th March 1932.

Evidence of repairs

None at all.

Insect damage


Mould damage



  1. Excellent
  2. Good
  3. Fair
  4. Poor


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