Fashion Archives

Collecting Cauet

December 7th 2018

During the Belle Époque, a period conventionally dated from 1900 to 1914, various Parisian couturiers established influential design houses that continue to elicit exclamations of awe when one views their dresses' intricate embroidery, beading, and construction details.


Coat for a Coachman

November 17th 2018

I knew the symbol in an instant: a stag's head. I had seen it before on gilt curtain tiebacks and  china, on stained glass windows above the impressive double doors to the Great Hall, and on the enormous pier mirrors that reflect endlessly on each other in the red furnished…


Lottie Barton: Dressmaker, Importer, Smuggler

November 5th 2018

To this date, little research has been completed on late-19th  and early-20th century Baltimore dressmakers. Of course, there has been significant study on the many prominent department stores in the city, such as Hutzler's, The Hecht Company, and Stewart & Co. However, from the 1870s to the 1920s, Baltimore hosted…


Stitching the Past into the Present: A 1970s Designer Maxi Dress

October 27th 2018

A reoccurring phenomenon we consistently witness here in the Maryland Historical Society’s costume collection is the cyclical nature of fashion. Designers, whether deliberately or not, often incorporate past techniques, silhouettes, and trends into their own fashion creations and breathe new life into them. While a quite common practice, it is…


Juniors, Misses, Petites... Oh My!

October 22nd 2018

Shopping can often be a nightmare, no matter your size, shape, height, or weight. There is a severe lack of standardization in women's clothing from store to store, and even within the same brand due to differing fashion lines.


Jacques Doucet: The Collector in the Collections

October 13th 2018

The Fashion Archives at the Maryland Historical Society boasts an outstanding collection of French haute couture worn by Marylanders. Among these beautiful, historical garments is an evening gown from the French haute couture house Doucet from around 1905.


Miss Dorsey's Duster

October 5th 2018

One of the strengths of the Fashion Archives at the Maryland Historical Society is that you can find almost anything there. There are hats and fans, tailcoats and wedding dresses of every era, ball gowns and uniforms. Whatever kind of clothing you might want to study can be found in…


Put Your Functional Fashion Foot Forward

September 28th 2018

The emergence of female designers in ready-to-wear, off-the-rack fashion helped set the tone for the latter half of the 20th century: functionality informed the form. As girdles and garters were shed, they were replaced with breathable and movable fabrics, designed for a true human to wear, not the ideological feminine…


Am I Blue?

September 14th 2018

A Civil War Era Dress Is Readied For Display. This lovely sapphire silk striped dress was selected to go on display in our "Divided Voices: Maryland in the Civil War" exhibition.


Jeanne Lanvin’s Robe de Style: An alternative to “All that Jazz” fashions of the 1920’s

September 10th 2018

The zeitgeist of 1920’s fashions for most is the short, black, sparkly, beaded flapper dress. Thanks to popular culture powerhouses like Chicago and The Great Gatsby among others, this image of women’s fashion during this time has been cemented into the minds of the masses.


The Ongoing Evolution of the Pocket

September 3rd 2018

One of the most universally debated topics in fashion is the Woman’s Pocket, or current lack thereof. Over the last three centuries, we have seen women’s pockets evolve dramatically and rapidly. While recently deinstalling a mid 19th century piece from the current exhibit "Divided Voices: Maryland in the Civil War"…


What to Wear to the City-Poly Game: Football That Goes Way Back

August 27th 2018

 by Norah Worthington, Fashion Archives Intern, Summer 2018. One of the most time honored traditions in Baltimore is the annual Baltimore City College versus Baltimore Polytechnic Institute football game. Sometimes played on Thanksgiving Day, and often played in Memorial, or later M & T Bank Stadium, the game is one…


Finding First Lady Frances at the MdHS Fashion Archives

August 12th 2018

Prior to coming to the Maryland Historical Society’s Fashion Archives I had ever only heard of one Baltimore Dressmaker. That dressmaker was Lottie Barton and I only knew of her because of my time studying the clothes of the nation’s First Ladies at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.…



August 3rd 2018

The Little Black Dress (LBD)- a classic staple found in most women's closets. But where did it come from, and how did it survive? While processing numerous garments at the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) Fashion Archives, I've been surprised by the amount of black I have seen spanning decades, even…


Inside Mr. Darcy's Drawers

July 30th 2018

Jane Austen fans are a devoted group of historical dress artisans. The women's clothing certainly gets a lot of attention, but the men of that period can be just as elegant and interesting.  In fact, some of our modern assumptions about a classic men's look come from the early 1800's…