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

Dress, 1-Piece - click to enlarge

Click photos to enlarge.

Dress, 1-Piece

Catalogue number: CS*033272

Date: 1820-1830

Maker: Unknown


Green and gray check silk gauze in decorative weave; slightly raised waist with inset waistband, lined with white cotton; wide neck edged with narrow band of lace; bodice with one dart on either side of center front; attached chemisette at inside center front; center back opening with drawstring closure at neck and two hooks-and-eyes at waistband; bodice back pleated into waistband at center back; elbow-length sleeves cut in two sections-upper portion gathered into armscyce (armhole), other portion is wide gathered band-both of these sections enclosed by very narrow band that also helps to control fullness; skirt relatively full and pleated; skirt has wadded hem of green satin; two wide, gathered self-fabric bands, trimmed with green satin piping at top and bottom, applied above hem; two tucks above highest decorative band.


This dress was worn by Maria Dorado Mason (sometimes called Mariqueta). She was probably born in Venezuela, of Spanish descent, and moved to Puerto Rico with her family in the early 19th century. In 1823 she married Sidney Mason, the first U.S. Consul to Puerto Rico. Her family was prominent socially on the island. This dress was most likely worn to evening social events after her marriage to Sidney. The couple had two children. In 1835, the whole family travelled to Boston to place the younger child, Alphonso, in boarding school. Soon after their arrival, Maria contracted pneumonia and died. Her daughter, Catalina Juliana, carefully saved some of her clothes and gave them to the Smithsonian Institution. Exhibited in the Arts and Industries Building in the early 20th century and in the Hall of American Costume from 1964 to 1973.

Credit: Bequest of Mrs. Julian James