Wardrobes belonging to John and Elsie Curtin

These wardrobes, which match a dressing table and bedside table in the collection, were in the main bedroom of the Curtin Family Home by 1931. Twin single beds with dark-stained headboards were purchased at the same time. They replaced a pale oak bedroom suite. The tall (ladies’) wardrobe, had full length hanging space. John had the gentleman’s wardrobe, which is shorter. His wardrobe space was supplemented by the built-in jarrah cupboard which remains in the bathroom. He kept his dinner suit and well-worn suitcases there when he was at home. He believed in being neatly presented, and is known to have chastised an aspiring member of parliament during a rural election campaign for failing to do so. 

Curtin’s attachment to his old clothes was well known to journalists and his colleagues. The conservative Curtin wardrobe in 1942 had been familiar to them for years. It included four suits: his brown tweed, his blue pencil-striped, his plain dark blue and his old-fashioned dinner suit (‘a faithful friend of many years’). He had two overcoats and two hats (in each case his best, and second-best), and two pairs of shoes (black and brown). His shirts were always white. His ties (of which it was said that he possessed only six) were plain. His customary sporting event and weekend choice in trousers was his pair of aged (white) cotton ducks. 

Elsie Curtin’s tastes were simple; for public occasions she liked skirts and dresses, often with matching short and full-length jackets. For decades she went to the same dressmaker who, during the interwar years, was 400 metres down the road in the local shopping area.

A black and white photo of John and Elsie Curtin walking in the backyard.

Photo: JCPML, Curtin University