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Want to see Charlotte Brontë’s “sensual” outfit?

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February 4, 2022, 1:51pm

Ever wanted to see Charlotte Brontë’s intimate apparel? You’re in luck—kind of. As The Guardian just reported, a new exhibition at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, showcasing Charlotte Brontë’s wardrobe, includes this “sensual” outfit:

Yes, it’s . . . huge and full-coverage, but Dr. Eleanor Houghton—co-curator of the exhibit—told The Guardian that this pink wrapper is a “something that she would have been seen in in the house, and with [her husband Arthur Bell] Nicholls,” said Houghton. “So while it’s not exactly a negligee, it’s a sort of Victorian equivalent. It’s an intimate garment.”

As Houghton puts it, the “hideous, pink” housecoat with matching cape is “absolutely the opposite of anything you would associate with Charlotte Brontë.” One might imagine something more somber and sedate, more typically “intellectual.” But the exhibit showcases Brontë’s more wild and joyful style choices: clothing in red, orange, and paisley, and a striped evening dress. “The items that have been placed on display wonderfully and tangibly demonstrate that the prevailing preconception that Brontë remained entirely unaffected by the fast-changing world of which she was part is untrue,” said Houghton. “I think this exhibition, showing Charlotte’s sense of style and her interest in contemporary patterns and materials, will surprise visitors.”

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