Jump to content

"Pomp & Changing Circumstance" - The Apparent Demise of Full Dress

Recommended Posts

Moss Bros traces its origins to two shops in Covent Garden, leased by Moses Moss in 1851.

Dealing in quality second hand clothes, in 1881 the firm moved the short distance to King Street, In 1894 Moses died & left the business to two of his sons, Alfred & George, within five years the shop was rebuilt & the name "Moss Bros" appeared on the premises.

In 1897 the firm began to hire out clothes, which it still does.

Moses had bought spare suits from Saville Row tailors, expandng his ready to wear department by buying remnants & employng independant tailors to make up suits, but it wss'nt until 1900, with the risng cost of bespoke tailoring that Moss Bros's ready made garments became popular, being hand finished whereas the garments of competition were machined.

The company claims to have entered the realm of military outfitting by accident, really - a colection of military oddments still tucked away in a cupboard after the Anglo Boer War were used in 1910 to provide two army officers with Frock Coats, & a uniform found for an officer from Ireland.

The latter recommended the firm to his friends & the Miltary Department of Moss Bros was opened.

Vast numbers of officer's uniforms were required at the outbreak of WWI, staff being kept so busy that they were working 15 hour days & sleeping on piles of clothing between.

In 1914 the firm became a limited lability company. A nephew of Alfreds, Monty Moss, died at Paschendale in 1917.

The company thrived, adding departments such as riding & saddlery,

In 1924, King George V directed that the new Labour government dress correctly at court, it appears not to have been an unpopular move, other than the cost involved to the indivdual.

The Kng's Private Secretary suggested the purchase of second hand levee dress from Moss Bros at £30 complete.

During the depression of the 1930's Medterranian cruses became popular, Moss Bros provding sutable clothing, & published the first of their "frivolous" story booklets, "All At Sea" - about cruising.

In September 1939 with the outbreak of WWII most of the hire department went into storage but the Military Department had more business than usual, provincial outlets were set up, includng in Portsmouth to cater for the Royal Navy. Withn a few days of opening however, the store was hit when the first few bombs were dropped on the city.

The firm found a wooden hut & managed to get the navy to tow it across the harbour, where it was set up outside the Dockyard & continued trading well into peace time.

Post war the firm contnued to thrive, & the funeral of King George VI in 1952 & the coronation of Queen Elizabethh II in 1953 were mportant occassions for Moss Bros.

Moss Brios are still in existence, having adapted, merged & diversified over the years.

This booklet "Pomp & Changng Circumstance" is, I'm assuming, one of the "frivolous series of Moss Bros booklets, taking an affectionate look at Full Dress which is now assumed to be doomed.

The booklet is of a quality of prining & paper that suggests that it was not produced during the period of post war austerity, but a number of features point to it being produced no earlier than the end of WWII & prior to the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

Edited by leigh kitchen
Link to comment
Share on other sites


Very nice and very unusual. I'm particularly intrigued by the 'Tanky' officer in full dress, showing the Austrian knot as worn by Corps and Cavalry. In particular his beret appears to be of a normal pattern and not the astrakan type, which would normally be seen with the brown,red and green hackle of the RTR. Also his beret and collar badges are illustrated here as being silver and gilt and not just silver - there again I've never seen a RTR officer in full dress.

Edited by Graham Stewart
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...