Tailored tartan ... Victorian Wardrobe mistress Dawn Sutherland expects plenty of people to dress up for this year's heritage week. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

This year’s Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations might have been cancelled, but it has not stopped people from dressing up for the week.

Just ask Victorian Wardrobe mistress Dawn Sutherland.

Since the announcement in September of the celebration’s cancellation, the Victorian clothing hire service had only experienced one cancellation and was still getting queries for rentals next week.

In keeping with the celebration’s ‘‘Highland fling’’ theme, Mrs Sutherland and wardrobe assistant Elizabeth McLachlan had tartan ready at the drop of a top hat.

The shop was unable to open to the public as normal under Alert Level 2, as it was necessary to measure people for costumes — something made difficult by social distancing restrictions.

Usually at this time of the year, the wardrobe would be inundated with walk-ins and bookings.

‘‘We’re usually flat out,’’ Mrs Sutherland said.

But Covid-19 restrictions were not stopping people from booking via email.

Although the Victorian clothing hire service was down 80% in business compared with last year, Mrs Sutherland was expecting to see plenty of people dressing up and participating in the spirit of heritage week, next week.

In fact, Ms McLachlan said one customer told them she would still wear her costume, even if it was just around the house.

But there are plenty of occasions to dress up for next week, as many small groups and businesses are still going ahead with their events between November 17 and 21.

Those events include the Wild Haggis Otago Preservation Society Charity Ball, heritage walking tours, Scottish-themed tours at Totara Estate, an organ recital, and a Victorian banquet and haggis ceremony.

Celebrations committee chairwoman Elizabeth Perkinson said despite the event’s cancellation there were many beautiful things in the district for visitors to enjoy.

‘‘It’s likely that there will still be plenty of folk in costumes — including Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebration members — indulging in that quintessential Victorian pastime of making their own fun as restrictions allow.’’

A list of planned events associated with the celebrations is online at
Those wanting to dress up can email The Victorian Wardrobe ( or make an appointment for an in-person service.