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

Click photos to enlarge.

Dress, 1-Piece

Catalogue number: CS*006619

Date: 1790-1800

Maker: Unknown


Empire style; natural-colored cotton with printed sprig design; center front opening extending into skirt section; much piecing at upper front; scoop neck with casing and drawstring; falls loose in front from neck to skirt (which would have been controlled by some type of tie or drawstring which is no longer evident); bodice extending over shoulder into back; bodice side/back pieces joined to skirt; tucks, taken on side pieces to control fullness, which are released at raised waist level; center back seam; double inverted box pleat at skirt center back at raised waist level; additional pleats in skirt section where side/back and back pieces seamed; long, narrow set-in sleeves; wrist opening of sleeves trimmed with self ruffle; back bodice and sleeve lined with white linen; skirt longer in back than front; horizontal tuck in skirt near hem; narrow foldover hem.


Worn by a member of the Copp family, merchants in Stonington, Connecticut. From ladies' magazines of the period, we know that printed cottons were popular for dresses, but far fewer dresses made in the prints survive than the plain white ones. This donation, known as the "Copp Collection," contains several printed cotton dresses that date from the early 19th century. Exhibited from 1896 through the early 20th century in the Arts and Industries Building and at the National Museum of American History's Hall of American Costume from 1964 to 1973.

Credit: Gift of John Brenton Copp