Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Costume Collection - Women's Dresses

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Dress, 4-Piece - click to enlarge

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Dress, 4-Piece

Catalogue number: CS*273229.003

Date: 1936

Maker: Unknown


Printed georgette, gold background with large abstract flowers of brown, orange, green and violet; DRESS-sleeveless; V neck in front; both neck and sleeve opening self bound; skirt front cut upwards into point at center front neckline at bottom of V; bodice pleated into seam at center front where it joins to skirt extension to create fullness; large multicolored floral bouquet with green silk loop at bottom to imitate stem placed at center front neckline; center back opening from neck to waist seam; center back opening self bound and open, from neck binding to waist; back waist of skirt extends into bodice at waist; thread loops at sides for insertion of belt; skirt front with godet at lower portion; skirt back straight panel; foldover hem; BELT-self belt, 1-1/2" wide of double thickness of fabric; one end pointed and has worked hole; self-covered rectangular buckle with metal prong sewn to other end of belt: JACKET-center front opening; surplice front with long ties for tying; back of jacket at neck has vertical darts to control fullness; back cut straight across at bottom; long set-in sleeves; sleeves shirred at top and gathered into wristband; wristband closes with two metal snaps; back of jacket cut straight across at bottom; SLIP-pink; sleeveless; V front and scoop back; two small horizontal tucks at center front between bust to create fullness; spaghetti straps; side seams with additional fabric inset at bottom; narrow foldover hem.


Bessie Hoffman Preston (Mrs. Charles F. Preston) wore this dress in 1936 for evening events. It was exhibited in Suiting Everyone: The Democratization of Clothing in America from 1974 to 1979.

Credit: Gift of Mrs. Charles F. Preston