Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Costume Collection - Women's Dresses

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Dress, 3-Piece - click to enlarge

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Dress, 3-Piece

Catalogue number: CS*058926

Date: 1898-1908

Maker: Unknown


Black and white print cotton in vertical floral pattern; BODICE-foldover collar edged with white braid; center front opening; separate front bodice lining attached to bodice at side seams; lining faced with black and white print at center front; mother-of-pearl buttons and worked buttonholes in lining; bodice itself has worked buttonholes which attach to buttons on lining; front of bodice gathered at waist and stitched down; white braid on upper front creates yoke effect; back yoke in V shape with white braid covering where seamed to bodice back; back pleated at center and stitched down at waist; back lined with white cotton; side seams; long sleeves, gathered at top; wrist opening faced with white cotton; additional braid trim at wrist; SKIRT-gored; pleated at center back waist; waistband with no visible means of fastening; narrow foldover hem; BELT-self-belt made of two layers of fabric, pointed at one end; no visible means of fastening.


The donor believed that this everyday dress belonged to Mary Wheeler George of East Calais, Vermont (the donor found the dress amongst the things in the house when she purchased it). Mary Wheeler was born October 1861 in Woodbury, Vermont, and married Arthur P. George on March 27, 1887. Shortly before their marriage, he purchased the farm on which they lived for the rest of their lives. This is a ready-made example of easily laundered dresses (they were called "wash" dresses), that could have been purchased at a local store or through mail-order catalogs. It was exhibited in Suiting Everyone: The Democratization of Clothing in America from 1974 to 1979.

Credit: Gift of Madeleine Wilkinson