22 Aug 2019
December 7, 2009 - Filed under: History of Antiques — David

The modern wardrobe in its present form evolved from the practice of laying clothes flat in a press to the modern arrangement of arranging clothes on hangers within a hanging cupboard.

The wardrobe actually originated from the linen press. The early press was a cupboard with sets of drawers used for storing both clothes and household linen. As a piece of furniture, it began to evolve away from the 17th century heavy oak varieties to a more elegant freestanding style of press. However the modern fitted wardrobe also evolved from these heavy oak presses where cupboards were now being incorporated into the panelling of dressing rooms, many of which still exist as storage cupboards or fitted wardrobes in Georgian houses today.

The press still remained as a vehicle to lay clothes flat, but began to become more like a modern wardrobes where drawers were incorporated within a hanging cupboard, the whole becoming a grand piece of furniture sometimes raised up on cabriole legs.

The press or wardrobe kept up with the style changes of the Regency period and became monumental and imposing during the Victorian era, often fitted with long mirrors attached to front opening doors. The hanging capacity of the wardrobe increased with the size and general bulk of Victorian furniture and towards the end of the 19th century, matching beds, dressing tables and chairs could be purchased and the bedroom suite was born.

As clothes became more lightweight, space more limited and the ownership of bedroom furniture more widespread, the wardrobe adapted itself accordingly from the early antique presses and chests hand built in London and Lancashire to the fitted mass produced varieties we find in most modern homes today.

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