Today, while browsing through the Bloomsbury Dictionary of Fashion History,
I’ve learned about:
Following two nocturnal earthquakes in London in March 1750 a third was foretold, causing many to flee to the countryside against the predicted night of disaster. “This frantic terror prevails so much that within these three days 730 coaches have been counted … with whole parties removing into the country. … Several women have made earthquake gowns; that is, warm gowns to sit out of doors all night…” (April 4, 1750, Horace Walpole). A precursor of the siren suit of two centuries later
Period: 20th century.
A term for an all-in-one, shirt-and-trousers garment, usually buttoned at the front and made from a sturdy fabric.
In the image above – Siren suit belonging to Sir Winston Churchill, as displayed at Science Museum. Picture: Geoff Pugh/The Telegraph
We don’t know exactly how an earthquake dress looked like (most probably similar to any other dress at mid 18th century). The siren suit is basically a unitard used during Second World War, something you can grab quickly and dress up to run in a shelter, a raw version of contemporary jumpsuits.