Mourning clothes were at the height of their formality during the Victorian and early Edwardian times. There was a huge industry based around mourning dress - relics of which have survived to this day. HILARIE STELFOX takes a look at items from a local collection
IF YOU were unfortunate enough to lose someone dear to you in the late Victorian period then you faced a period of over two years wearing black.
This mourning wear tradition is often held responsible for our love affair with the non-colour that has lasted into the 21st century.
For mourning clothes had to be fashionable and accessorised.
It was Queen Victoria who became the mourning trendsetter. She began wearing full mourning black when her beloved Albert died in 1861 and stuck to it until she joined him 40 years later.
Because so many women adapted mourning dress in Victorian times - when infant mortality was high - most museums today have items of mourning clothing in their collections.
Mirfield resident Chris Ward is fortunate enough to have a collection of her own - inherited from her sister.
The collection was recently seen at a charity fashion show in Croft House, Upper Hopton, organised to help her friend Paula Cox, who has been offered a place at one of the country's leading acting schools and needs to raise funds for her studies.
Chris keeps her valuable hoard of costumes, from the Victorian period up to the Roaring Twenties, in her spare bedroom - specially boxed.
But she enjoys sharing them with others and when using them for fashion shows and presentations allows people to touch them.
Our pictures show Paula and her daughter Holly Hardy, 12, modelling some of the mourning wear from the collection.
The fashion show also featured Laura McAuley, 16.
They could have stepped straight out of the 19th or early 20th century - as our images illustrate.
? In the Victorian period women were expected to adopt mourning dress for a period of 2½ years, with the first year spent in full mourning black.
? It was acceptable to gradually introduce other colours into an outfit during the last half of the mourning period - usually sombre shades of mauve or grey.
? Even children wore mourning clothes.
? The black silk crepe that became so popular for mourning dress was made by the textile giant Courtaulds and this one cloth alone made a fortune for the company.
? Mourning dress had to be in keeping with contemporary fashion and because the mortality rate was so high some women wore it for years.
? Rich women had highly elaborate mourning wear and wore lots of jet jewellery.
? By the Edwardian era, mourning clothes were going out of fashion. The tradition ran out of steam by the time of the Great War, when virtually every family was in mourning.