Fashion Archives

Truth is Stranger than Fictional Characters: Dolly Varden in the 1870s

August 30th 2019

During the mid-nineteenth century, people fell in love with Dolly Varden. She became so popular that suddenly anything and everything was named after her, including various types of music, a fish (the Dolly Varden Trout, specifically), a hat, and a style of dress. 


If Clothes Could Talk: The Social History of the Tea Gown

August 18th 2019

The tea gown has had many influences and inspirations. While the tea gown is very much a Victorian-era creation and a response to late nineteenth century culture, the tea gown also largely influenced fashion well into the twentieth century.


Exhibiting Costume at the Maryland Historical Society, 1970 and Now

August 17th 2019

In the 1970s, the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) began a practice of showcasing costume from its Fashion Archives using common exhibition practices for the period. The Fashion Archives  includes over 14,000 garments and accessories dating from 1724 to the present. Curatorial staff preserved the legacies of these exhibitions through meticulous…


Forgotten Furs: Collections Care Strategies for Fur Garments in the Maryland Historical Society's Fashion Archives

August 16th 2019

Fur fashions seem to transcend time and space. They have appeared in numerous cultures across the world throughout the last few thousand years for both functional and aesthetic reasons. While the 1980s and 1990s saw a decline in the desire for fur coats that required the inhumane treatment of animals…


Archiving Accessories: How to Mount a Fan for Storage

August 8th 2019

The Maryland Historical Society’s Fashion Archives holds more than dresses and garments. It also contains a multitude of fashionable accessories from hats to shoes, parasols to gloves, fans to stockings, and everything else in between. Fans were often both functional and decorative. Women in the 19th century kept cool on…


Making a Mend: Historic Repair Techniques for Costume

August 2nd 2019

What do you do when your favorite jeans wear out? Or you lose a button on your favorite blouse? Today’s fast fashion practices encourage consumers to replace garments that are torn, faded, or out of style, but in many costumes in the Fashion Archives at MdHS, evidence of repair means…


A Brief History of the Fashion Plate

July 26th 2019

Emily McCort, 2019 Summer Fashion Archives Intern In the last couple of years, I personally began collecting fashion plates. As someone who has an interest in fashion history and a background in the arts, the combination of fashion and art fascinated me. Earlier fashion plates give the most up to date…


Dating 101: The Pagoda Sleeve of the Mid-19th Century

July 19th 2019

This summer, I and the other Fashion Archives interns have been charged with the rediscovery, processing, and rehousing of costumes from the Maryland Historical Society’s Fashion Archives. Many of the costumes lack accompanying information about the original wearer, or even the time period, so it is necessary for us to…


Bold Prints, Ikat and Chiné Silk

July 12th 2019

When peeking into the boxes of the Fashion Archives at MdHS, one aspect of costume that always strikes me is the complexity of prints and patterns. Sometimes between layers of tissue, my first impression of a dress is only a glimpse of a spectacular floral motif or stripe. This was…


Repurposing Fashion: A 19th Century Woman's Guide to Thrift

July 5th 2019

Before the advent of the ready to wear market, clothing was very costly, not so much for the labor and time that went into creating a garment, but for the quality of the textiles used. Silk of the finest quality could cost the “equivalent to what a laborer might earn…


An 1890s Ermine Tail Cape

June 28th 2019

Around the year 1891, a family member of Trisler S. Pentz wore this cape to his christening. His cousins, Matilda and Charles Simmons, later gifted the cape to Pentz, who then gave it to family members Mr. and Mrs. Darison D. White. They donated the garment to the Maryland Historical…


Meet Our 2019 Fashion Archives Interns!

June 21st 2019

Our 2019 Fashion Archives interns have officially begun working at the Maryland Historical Society! Along with continuing the rehousing project for our costume collection, our three interns will also assist in the installation of the Spectrum of Fashion exhibit, opening October 5. Look forward to their weekly blog posts! 


2019 Fashion Archives Internship Announcement

January 11th 2019

 The Maryland Historical Society is pleased to offer summer positions to successful pre-program applicants for its annual Fashion Archives Internship Program! This year’s program will focus on conservation, mounting, and exhibition preparation of costume and accessories for the upcoming exhibition The Spectrum of Fashion: Highlights from the Fashion Archives at…


2018 Dress of the Year

December 28th 2018

The Maryland Historical Society Fashion Archives has announced its Dress of the Year 2018! With its stunning metallic gold and silver embroidery, lace trims, and its sequin-adorned net overlay, this early 1900s Doucet gown continues to take our breath away!


A Shield Against the Cold: an 1820s Winter Bonnet

December 21st 2018

Today, December 21st, officially marks the beginning of winter and, consequently, the ushering in of cold, frigid weather. When you woke up this morning, you likely consulted the day’s forecast and planned an outfit best suited for the chilly weather. One accessory often worn during this season is a hat…