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*239037.001

Date: 1861

Maker: Unknown


Blue and tan striped silk; wide stripe of plain silk alternating with wide stripe of decorative weave; slightly dropped round neck edged with piping; center front closure with blue glass buttons, set in metal, on right side and worked buttonholes on left; two darts on either side of center front; straight waist edged with piping; bodice extends over shoulder and at sides into back; back cut with center back piece and a smaller piece on either side; bodice lined with brown cotton; bell sleeves, lined with blue cotton; sleeves box-pleated into piped armscyce (armhole); bottom of sleeve has self-facing; center front closure and sleeve ends trimmed with blue decorative braid and fringe of alternating blue and black silk; skirt completely lined in blue cotton; skirt gauged and sewn to bodice; skirt closes at left front with hook-and-eye; hem faced with blue wool braid that extends below hem; blue cotton watch pocket at left waist.


This dress was worn by Mr. Carter's great aunt, Mary Payne. Other than her name, we know nothing about her. Perhaps future research may reveal move. We have additional items that might have belonged to the same woman and that also date to the Civil War era. Since the donor said that this dress was worn in 1861, it is likely that it was connected with a special event in the wearer's life. It is a good example of the day dresses of the period. It was exhibited in the Hall of American Costume from 1964 to 1973.

Credit: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edward P. Carter