From heavy petticoats and restrictive corsets for women, to breeches and flouncy blouses for men — there are some fashions that people believe are best left in the past. 

However, Hobartian Claire Wong is determined to bring them into the present.

Key points:

“My approach to fashion is almost exclusively historical or historical inspired,” she said. 

“Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved history. Anything from medieval to 1950s.”

When she is not at her day job as a barrister, Ms Wong can be found wearing full skirts and long dresses inspired by historic periods, including the Regency and Victorian eras. 

The history buff makes many of the outfits herself. 

Claire Wong sitting at her sewing machine.

ABC News: Maren Preuss

“There’s a lot of detail that goes into it, the pleat here, the tuck there, a cut in a particular way or a bum roll that adds padding to the hips, it plays with the human form in really interesting ways,” Ms Wong said.

“And the textiles can be so beautiful and I really like the natural fibres, the wools and silks feel so good to wear.”

Ms Wong scours second-hand stores searching for old curtains, doona covers and even 80s taffeta dresses to transform into clothing. 

“As soon as I was able to choose my own clothes, I would go to op shops and find things and I would always be looking at the historical inspiration or the historic potential in an item,” she said. 

“And then I would alter it to fit me or deconstruct it to make it more historical in some way.”

Close up of Claire Wong's hands working at a sewing machine.

ABC News: Maren Preuss

Out on the town in their ‘finery’

Ms Wong is part of a group of people who share a passion for period clothing and regularly visit Tasmania’s historic towns.

They promenade through the streets, indulge in scones at tea rooms and attend dances.

The group is providing a creative outlet and important social connection. 

A group of people in historical outfits stand in front of the convict-era Richmond Bridge.

ABC News: Selina Ross

For the oldest member, Peter Fielding, it has been a lifeline. 

“I have terminal cancer, I’ve got 19 months out of four months so I bow to these lovely people, they have helped me a lot,” he said.

“The heart misses a beat every time you see all these lovely people in their finery.”

Corsets ‘not as uncomfortable as people think’

Dawn Clarke is another of the group members who makes her own outfits “from the skin out”.

“[The clothes] feel more feminine,” she said. 

“People have this perception about corsets but they’re not as uncomfortable as people think, especially when they’re made for your own body.

“It’s a little bit of fantasy, I suppose.”

Tourists often stop the group members to take photographs. 

“I really enjoy it because it gives us the chance to do something different and people really like it,” Ms Clarke said.

“People respond really well.” 

Two women and a man in old-fashioned costumes have tea indoors

ABC News: Selina Ross

Nurse Cathy Jenkins crafts bonnets.

“There’s something about the fact that you have to wear a uniform that’s somewhat dull and boring to work that really makes this special for us when we dress up,” she said. 

Ms Jenkins said the group welcomed people who wore a range of styles.

“We have people like Claire who dress from the 1700s style, we also have people who like steampunk and they can join us too,” she said.

“I think we’re doing a bit for the tourism in Tasmania and people seem to really appreciate it.”