GRANDMA’S WARDROBE is an exploration of Australian fashion throughout history. Using vintage clothing that corresponds to specific dates and eras, a timeline of fashion is thus laid out. Ten decades have been explored, with their distinct styles and trends showcasing our history of fashion in Australia—from where we started to where we are now. Fashion and photography throughout history are synonymous as both go hand-in-hand to showcase our past, how we grow as humans, and how we develop and fall into trends. From different colourways to varying patterns to different shapes, fashion and photography are constantly evolving and due to their ongoing partnership, we are able to document our past. From colonisation and invasion to the onslaught of war to the advent of technology, our history greatly influences what we wear as new inspiration and new ideas to express ourselves are brought to life. Now in 2022, with the resurgence of every possible fashion trend happening at the same time to the point that nothing is ‘in fashion’ for too long simply because everything is, it fascinates and excites most to be able to look at our past to see where these original trends have come from and how much of a breakthrough they were in their time compared to today. 


Woman dressed in 1880s attire standing next to drawing desk with books.
Emily Short, Grandma’s Wardrobe – Ginny for 1880s, 2022.

Overall, this project has given me even more insight into what fashion has become today—that of cheap synthetic fabrics meant to fall apart and be thrown away within a year or two. Having the privilege to be able to use original vintage clothing pieces for this project and recognising that these clothing pieces still exist due to the craftsmanship of each item shows how society’s view on fashion has changed throughout the decades from something cherished and exciting for at least a whole decade, to something not fashionable enough and mundane after a few months. We used to be more conscious of our consumerism when it came to fashion and being able to buy an ‘in-fashion’ item at the time was a privilege, as many saved up their money to buy these hand-crafted items which weren’t as mass-produced as they are now. With the rise of fast fashion and the ability to keep buying new clothes to then throw out old ones due to their affordability as well as quantity, we are going through trends at such an alarming pace that it is becoming harder and harder to consistently be in fashion without fully reforming one’s wardrobe every few months. While I am in two minds today concerning the rise of the internet and social media—inspiration is now constantly all around us which has given way to one of the most creative and influential times in history as people can express themselves in any way they want—I am also conscious of what this does to the planet and what our carbon footprint is as a result of this expression by so many. This project overall pays homage to our past and is a celebration of Australian fashion through the ages, as we learn to become more creative and free with the way we express ourselves as individuals. As Marc Jacobs once said, ‘clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them’.

Model in 1960s dress laying on couch.
Emily Short, Grandma’s Wardrobe – Carol for 1960s, 2022.

Emily Short is a fashion and portrait photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. Emily has been published in multiple magazines and online sources such as Broadsheet, Fashion Journal, Melbourne Fashion Week, Cocktail Revolution, and more. She is in the final semester of her course at RMIT doing a Bachelor of Arts (Photography). As a photographer, she views the world through a creative lens. This creativity has led her to many adventures and has given her the chance to collaborate with some truly talented individuals. She is always searching for more opportunities to explore further, continue growing and expand her skill set.


Model in 1950s wear sitting on a stool at a kitchen table.
Emily Short, Grandma’s Wardrobe – Valerie ‘Va Va’ Valentine for 1950s, 2022.

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Emily Short