A Brief History of Wardrobes

We are all familiar with what a wardrobe is – an enclosed space for hanging our clothes, often with interior shelves and drawers. But do we know where they originate from? What is the history behind the humble wardrobe that serves us so well day in, day out?

Today, having a wardrobe full of clothing is something we take for granted. Our caveman ancestors would not have been so concerned with where to organise their animal pelts, probably not taking them off very often! These days, we need somewhere tidy and organised for all our various outfits. Those for work, holiday and weekend casual. We don’t want trousers and shirts getting creased or damaged by moths. So, when did our amount of clothing become so great so as to warrant a piece of furniture devoted to its storage?

It has been documented that the first time a person’s ‘stock of clothes for wearing’ required a dedicated storage space was sometime in the 14th century. Initially, this was usually a chest or box of some kind. In this century, nobles began referring to a ‘room where apparel is kept’ as a warderobe or wardereube. These words came from old French, in which ‘warder’ meant to guard or to keep safe. The ‘robe’ part means garment.

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Travelling into the future by around 400 years and we see the first examples of a wardrobe as an actual piece of furniture. It was described as a movable and closed cupboard for storing wearing apparel. It had two separate sections – one for hanging clothes and one for laying them flat and folded.

The wardrobes were usually only found in wealthy households and would often be highly decorated and adorned with carvings and intricate patterns. They would stand proud in a bedchamber, making a considerable statement. Wardrobes hidden into recesses and covered with patterned panelling also started to appear as the birth of the fitted wardrobe. For Fitted Wardrobes Hampshire, check out the Fitted Wardrobes in Hampshire by Lamco-design.

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By the 19th century, the wardrobe had become a vital part of the bedroom furniture. As the industrial revolution swept across the country, more wealth was distributed to the working classes and production methods were made easier, meaning wardrobes were no longer the preserve of the wealthy nobility. Fashion and clothing flourished and as such, people had a far greater need for someone to store their increasing amount of clothing.

Today, the fitted wardrobe is the symbol of contemporary living, providing a clutter-free environment. Now we can choose from a whole variety of stylish sliding doors, personalised storage options and mirrored doors for a sleek, elegant bedroom that is maximised for space. No longer do you need to be nobility to have the wardrobe of your dreams.



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