Dressing Up in Brisbane, 1900s Style

 The Brisbane Poster Ball was held on 20th September 1900 to raise funds for the Lady Lamington Hospital for Women.   

Many attendees created costumes advertising a particular company, with the daughter of the Chairman of Queensland Brewery Limited dressing up as a bottle of Bulimba Gold Top Ale

Excitement about the ball was intense.   The Queenslander reported on 29th September 1900 that by 7 o'clock the entrance to the Centennial Hall in Adelaide Street was crowded with visitors holding tickets of admission and directly the doors were thrown open there was a mad rush for the hall.


Miss Edwards' clothing appears to be made from newspaper print material.

Mrs Drake poses in a gown emblazoned with examples from H. F. Smith, Jeweller. In her raised right hand she also holds an item manufactured by the jeweller.

Find more photographs of Brisbanites dressed up for the Poster Ball in State Library of Queensland's catalogue and in Australian Newspapers Online.

State Library of Queensland Fancy Dress flickr set.


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My wife and I have been together and living in Brisbane for over 48 years, and as time has progressed over those years so has fashion. It would seem to us that fashion in Brisbane today is very similar to many cities around the world that we have visited. I say this because modern media today helps us keep up with fashion around the world. The trend in fashion in most cities around the world has gone very casual and even untidy. When I look around Brisbane today during work hours, the most nicely dressed women are in uniforms. Be that a very smart attire or a well designed proper uniform. When I was young in the 60's men's casual wear was a nice pair of slacks, shirt, shoes and a blazer. I still love to dress up with my wife but we don't follow fashion. We follow classic styles. It would seem that a lot of fashion has frequently comes through celebrities. However unlike the past when film stars etc dressed very stylish because they were owned by the studios and were told often how and what to wear in public. The stars of the past looked very stylish and leaders in style as they soon developed a very tidy attire about themselves. Today the modern celebrity and the system does not impose this dress of code on these people. Of cause many of the celebrities really don't have much in the way of good style except when on the screen, were they are dressed up by others. Now as fashion is often dictated by copying celebrities, then it is very obvious that it follows what it sees in the celebrity circles and that is often uncoordinated casual dressing. Which also often includes uncoordinated Tattoo's with the attire. Individuality and pride in neat dressing have been over shadowed by copied sloppy expensive casual wear, under the name of the latest fashion. If one wants to dress up today and make a statement, that might reflect some of the beautiful coordinated dressing styles of the past, which included beautiful made garments with outstanding stitching, Then one has to just simply be an individual and push the envelope like my wife and I do. Because if you look for places to dress nicely you won't find too many. Even weddings which were the last common place of nice tidy coordinated dressing, seem have sadly lost the way, except for the bride and groom who may often look out of place, amongst many of untidy and disrespectful attired guests.