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

Dress, 1-Piece - click to enlarge

Click photos to enlarge.

Dress, 1-Piece

Catalogue number: CS*053837A

Date: 1882-1889

Maker: Mme. Arnand


Maroon velvet; pink brocade panel down center front trimmed with lace; center front opening with 22 dome-shaped crochet buttons; narrow velvet stand collar with lace ruffle applied to inside; two darts on either side of center front; applied band of embroidered velvet extends from bust to shoulder seam; bodice front extends below waist and hangs free from skirt; back cut with three pieces on either side of center back; bodice back extends into skirt; long sleeves; embroidered curved band at wrist opening with lace ruffle applied to inside; all darts and seams boned; bodice lined with white silk; inner waistband stamped with maker's name and address; skirt front attaches to bodice/skirt back by means of hook and eyes; pink brocade in medallion pattern, edged with lace, down center front of skirt; skirt flat at front; applied embroidered velvet band on sides; horizontal pleats at hips; elaborate construction at back to create bustle shape; pleated velvet band at front hem; back trained with self ruffle at edge; inside-attached bustle of cotton with metal stays and tiebacks; train lined with heavy dark brown fabric; gauze and lace dust ruffle.


Louisa Catherine Adams Johnson Clement (Mrs. Erskine Clement) wore this dress in the 1880s. A descendent of President John Adams, she married Erskine Clement of Boston. Her daughter donated the dress, along with many other family items, to the Smithsonian.

With its high neck and long sleeves, this dress was intended for a daytime event. Yet, given the opulent nature of the materials and the high skill needed to construct such a garment, it was probably worn to a special event. At present we do not know much about Mademoiselle Armand, who worked in Paris, but the dress shows that she was highly skilled. While on a trip to Europe, Mrs. Clement would have visited her shop to have the dress custom-made.

Credit: Gift of Mary Louisa Adams Clement