Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Costume Collection - Women's Dresses

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Dress, 1-Piece - click to enlarge

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Dress, 1-Piece

Catalogue number: CS*240648.002

Date: 1906-1916

Maker: Unknown


Lingerie style; white; high stand lace collar with stays; narrow lace insert below collar; band of lace down center front from below inset to flounce; sides of bodice of plain cotton; rest of bodice made of alternating panels of lace and vertically tucked cotton; center back closure that extends into skirt; back bodice closed with nine thread-covered buttons and buttonholes; waist and skirt opening closed with metal hook-and-eyes; horizontal waist inset of lace and tucked cotton; narrow set-in sleeves with tucks and lace insertion and lace trim at wrist; gored skirt with tucks over hips for shaping; lower skirt inset with horizontal band of lace and tucked cotton; flounce below inset with tucking and lace insertion; French seams; foldover hem.


This summer dress was worn by the aunt of the donor, Maude Colvin. Dresses of this type, made of lightweight cotton and lace insertion, are called "lingerie." Although elaborate looking, they were often ready-made, and the industry supplied these dresses in a variety of price points. As the Lane Bryant catalog for 1913 claimed, "their necessary place in every wardrobe is indeed well known." In spite of their apparent delicacy, they were also easily laundered. As one advertiser stated, "The possession of dresses that launder easily when spotted or soiled is indeed a relief when one spends a greater party of the day out of doors." Exhibited in Suiting Everyone: The Democratization of Clothing in America from 1974 to 1979.

Credit: Gift of Mrs. Donald O. Woolf