Historical information

This item of underclothing, called a "combination" is one of several linen and clothing items belonging to the deceased estate of Susan Henry OAM (nee Vedmore 1944 - 2021) that was donated to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and Village.

Susan's family (Harold and Gladys Vedmore) immigrated to Australia from Wales in 1955 and settled in Warrnambool. Susan was well known in the Warrnambool community for her work supporting children and families across the district - particular those with disabilities, or those who were homeless, unemployed or isolated. Susan was the founding trustee of the "Vedmore Foundation" - a Warrnambool philanthropic trust set up in 2010 to support a range of charitable and not-for-profit causes by providing grant assistance. In 2021, she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the community.

Combination undergarments combined the chemise and drawers into one garment. The combination is divided, or bifurcated, from the waist to the crotch for easier urinating. This one-piece type of underwear was worn by females from the 1860s and into the early 1900s. The 19th Century garments had front button closures like this one, and those made in the 1900s more often had back closures. Combination underwear was popular because the all-in-one design had far fewer gathers and bulk, making the other clothing look much smoother. Their primary use was to protect clothing from perspiration and because they were made with cotton or linen, were easy to wash. This particular item is made with lawn (a very lightweight fabric) and is sleeveless, making it suitable for hot weather. Although they were worn under the corset next to the skin (and therefore not meant to be seen), they were often decorated with lace or embroidery.


This item is an example of the needlework skills of women in the late 19th century - using machine stitching and lace to personalise and embellish a practical item of clothing. It is also significant as an example of a practical solution to the difficulties that women of this era faced with regard to the washing of clothes and household linens.

Physical description

Lady’s white lawn and lace all-In-one combination undergarment. The handmade underwear is a combined chemise and bloomers. It has four buttons in the front and is trimmed with lace on the neckline, armholes, bodice (in a diagonal design) and legs. The left and right sides are divided from the waist to the crutch. The back of the garment is plain with a gathered section at the lower back.