Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Costume Collection - Women's Dresses

Browse the Collection


Dress, 2-Piece - click to enlarge

Dress, 2-Piece - click to enlarge

Click photos to enlarge.

Dress, 2-Piece

Catalogue number: CS*228279.001

Date: 1959

Maker: Traina Norell

Designer: Norman Norell


Black wool crepe dress and jacket that give illusion of being one piece; DRESS-bodice portion of china silk with raised waistline, sleeveless with scoop neckline; two tucks on either side of center front and center back of bodice; high-waisted wool crepe straight skirt with two long darts at either side of center front and back to slightly shape upper body and fit smoothly over hips; metal zipper closure on left side with hook-and-eye at underarm; opened left shoulder seam which fastens with two hooks-and-eyes; five-inch turned up skirt hem; dress is lined in china silk; JACKET-black wool crepe, buttoning at center back; four 1 3/8" black plastic buttons; bound buttonholes; three-inch wide grosgrain ribbon attached at lower edge of jacket to form a midriff band; large ribbon rosette attached at center front of midriff band; scoop neckline; elbow-length kimono sleeves (sleeves are cut in one with the jacket); shaped side-panels that join gusset at underarm; two tucks on either side of center front and center back; jacket lined in china silk.


The donor purchased this dress from the 1959 collection of Traina Norell in New York City specifically to give it to the Smithsonian Institution. She felt that Norman Norell, who was the designer at Traina Norell, was the best American fashion designer of the period and that a dress of his should be in the national collections. It was exhibited in the Hall of American Costume from 1964 to 1973.

Credit: Gift of Mrs. Prentiss Cooley