Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Costume Collection - Women's Dresses

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Dress, 1-Piece - click to enlarge

Dress, 1-Piece - click to enlarge

Click photos to enlarge.

Dress, 1-Piece

Catalogue number: 1977.0698.004

Date: 1785-1795

Maker: Unknown


Floral print cotton on black ground with flowers in shades of red, blue, and violet; closed robe with apron front; bodice made with center front edge-to-edge closure; front edges extend down to a squared-off point; front section of skirt open at sides to form a drop panel (apron front) with a drawstring at upper edge; waistline seam extends straight across back; bodice back with three curved seams that radiate out from waistline; drawstring inserted in neckline edge; bodice lined with cotton except for shoulder section, which is lined with linen; small bum (small padded roll) sewn into inside waistline at back; long narrow sleeves; wrist opening with a button and button loop closure.


This dress is probably of English origin. Curator Emeritus Claudia Brush Kidwell noted that it was orginally made in the 1780s but shows alterations to make it conform to the newer styles of the 1790s. To do this, the center back of the bodice was cut off and the waistline raised. Exhibited in After the Revolution: Life in America from 1984 to 1995.