Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Costume Collection - Women's Dresses

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Dress, Bodice - click to enlarge

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Dress, Bodice

Catalogue number: 1981.0634.003

Date: 1865-1870

Maker: Unknown


Evening; light green taffeta; short cap sleeves pleated into armscye (armhole); cut extremely short; boned; extremely wide neck that drops to a slight V at center; center front opening with five green satin covered buttons; pleated chiffon and satin decorative panels, with satin binding, trim upper front and back; self-fabric bow at upper center front edge; large pads covered in beige silk on inside front of bodice.


This is the bodice to what would have been a two-piece evening dress. We purchased it for the collections because of the "bust improvers", pads attached to the inside to give the desired rounded bustline. Exhibited in Men and Women: A History of Costume, Gender and Power in America from 1989 to 1991.