Fashion Archives

Art Nouveau Fashion: Giving Dress a Place Among Decorative Arts

July 23rd 2018

What do you think of when you hear “Art Nouveau”? Sinuous lines of French furniture and interiors? Stunning jewelry made of glass and gemstones worn by elite actresses like Sarah Bernhardt? Poster art? World’s Fairs and the Moulin Rouge? Tiffany glass?


Made and Remade for a Quaker Wedding

July 9th 2018

A tan silk Quaker wedding gown posed some puzzles for a summer day. Although we think of wedding dresses as white or ivory, at some periods in time, a bride simply wore her best dress. The soft brown color of this silk gown was common among Quakers, but exactly what…


Reading Between the Seams

July 9th 2018

As we continue processing the extensive collection housed inside The Maryland Historical Society, I’m developing a better understanding of what can be revealed from each individual garment through their unique elements. To glean any form of valuable information, we must put ourselves in the shoes, and clothes, of whoever wore…


A FAN-tastical Find in the Fashion Archives

July 2nd 2018

While we think of all the fantastic examples of historic clothing that the Fashion Archives possess, the Archives also hold exquisite examples of men’s, women’s, and children’s accessories. This includes, among other things, hundreds of fans from the 18th-20th centuries.


Why Do We Have Such Colorful Civil War Dresses?

July 2nd 2018

When we think about wartime fashions, often we think of fabric rations, women in coveralls, uniforms, and drab beige, khaki, or olive clothing. While these textiles and styles were common during World War I and World War II, we often forget that during the Civil War bright patterned wool and…


Donor Paul Edel

June 25th 2018

As a professional costumer, it is a bit of a detour to go into the world of museum collections. Working on theater productions, I certainly have spent many hours researching a period, or recreating antique garments for a show. I’ve even found myself using pieces that are “vintage” in a…


La Belle Epoque and Liberty & Co.’s Opulent Fashions

June 18th 2018

Women's fashions during La Belle Epoque, a time between the end of the Franco-Prussian War and the start of World War I (1871-1914), were just one of a series of art forms that flourished during that period, considered a golden age of art and design.


A Dress, A story, and Mary Todd Lincoln

February 8th 2018

In 1957, a dress was given to the Maryland Historical Society with an interesting story attached.


The Anatomy of an 18th Century Shoe

November 27th 2017

Women's shoes in the 18th century were truly things of beauty.  This week, we take a closer look at two such pairs from the Fashion Archives at the Maryland Historical Society.


Flapper Style: Rebels in the 1920s

November 13th 2017

Rebellious and determined, flappers flirted, danced, smoked, and frequented speakeasies.  Much like their free spirits, the flapper dress style was a stark contrast to that of older generations.


Fancy Dress Parties- Costumes from the 19th Century

October 30th 2017

In the 19th century, costume parties were not just for Halloween.  In fact in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the "fancy dress" parties as they were called, were all the rage and hosted throughout the year.  People would throw fancy dress parties or balls and require guests to…


The Zouave Jacket Frenzy in the 1860s

October 23rd 2017

Military uniforms have influenced fashion throughout history and continue to do so today. In the mid-nineteenth century, Americans were taken with the French Zouave in the Crimean War as they were publicized in newspapers and magazines.  Americans were so enchanted by the Zouave that volunteer units for the Civil War…


Drag Queens and Dramatic Scenes

October 9th 2017

“When you become the image of your own imagination, it's the most powerful thing you could ever do.”


Little Boys in Pink Dresses

October 2nd 2017

Pink for a baby girl, blue for a boy, right? Not so, at least not until the twentieth century.  In fact age, not gender, dictated the type of clothing a child would wear.  Before age five to seven, boys and girls were dressed similarly, and their clothing was styled after…