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Fashion Archives

Dressing an 18th Century Gown Today

September 25th 2017

1943.48.1 Gift of Miss Katherine S. Montell           How did women get dressed in the 18th century?  This question was recently answered by the Lady Lever Art Gallery and National Museums Liverpool with their video reenacting just that.  The video grew in populariaty with a feature on…


The Letty Lynton Effect

September 11th 2017

Throughout the history of film, there have been dresses that have become iconic, nearly eclipsing the film in which they were worn; Marilyn Monroe's white halter dress in The Seven Year Itch, Audrey Hepburn's black gown in Breakfast at Tiffany's, and Molly Ringwald's pink floral dress in Pretty in Pink are all examples…


Fun in the Sun During the Roaring Twenties

September 4th 2017

The 1920s is a time known for scandalous dressing, and swimwear was no exception.  In honor of the last weekend of summer, today's post is dedicated to this lovely blue swimsuit from in the Fashion Archives here at the Maryland Historical Society. 


A Tarlatan Summer Dress

August 21st 2017

"There is nothing so graceful and pretty for a young person as a thin dress" 


All That Glitters: Regency Style and Metallic Trim

August 14th 2017

Fashions from 1800-1820 (the British Regency and the American Federal period) reflected the Neoclassical movement that had begun in the previous century. As in architecture and visual arts, women’s fashion emulated ancient Greek and Roman models.


Conserving Transitional Fashions: The 1910s at the MdHS Fashion Archive

August 9th 2017

The early 20th century was a time of dramatic change. During the 1910s, the United States became majority-urban for the first time in its history. Modernism and non-Western influences were reshaping art and architecture, and Western fashion reflects the technological and cultural changes of the era.


1810s Mourning Dress

August 8th 2017

As mentioned in a previous post, within Maryland Historical Society costume collection there exists a “study collection.” Curators accessioned garments and accessories into this collection often because they were incomplete ensembles or required conservation, but were still deemed useful for understanding costume history. When we process these “study” pieces, we…


Structured Beauties: Evolution of the Crinoline

August 2nd 2017

These structures influenced the construction and appearance of a garment and analyzing a dress’s intended silhouette provides a useful dating tool. One silhouette-altering structure was the cage crinoline, whose origins can be traced back to the 15th century.


Saving a 1790s Dress

July 26th 2017

Within the Maryland Historical Society’s costume archives, certain garments are accessioned into the “study collection.” Usually artifacts within this collection have serious alteration issues, missing pieces, or need of conservation. As implied by the name, garments within the study collection were open to the public for interpretation and analysis. Recently,…


Conservation Challenges in a 1910s Evening Dress

July 24th 2017

Western fashion changed dramatically during the first half of the 20th century, reflecting the other technological and cultural changes of the era. The materials used to create these dresses can make them challenging to conserve, store, and display. This evening dress from the 1910s illustrates the effects of stylistic trends…


Plastic Beads on a 1910s Summer Dress

July 19th 2017

Whenever we examine garments in the Maryland Historical Society’s costume collection, we pay close attention to their materials, which will impact how we process, store, and display the objects. Dresses made from natural fabrics like linen or wool need to be carefully checked for insect damage. Metal fasteners can stain…


A 1927 Evening Dress

July 17th 2017

Costume has the unique ability to create a connection between today’s person and our ancestors. By analyzing and researching the history behind the textile, one uncovers a new perspective about someone in the past’s life, which is what happened while processing a 1920s evening dress that belonged to Miss Eugenia…


A 1948 Wedding Dress

July 10th 2017

The objects in the Costume Collection of the Maryland Historical Society are a cross-section of Maryland life, reflecting changing trends and technological advances. Many garments entered the collection without information about the people who wore them or made them, so finding objects that do have such documentation is always exciting. 


The Hutzler Experience

July 5th 2017

  An atmosphere of nostalgia filled the Maryland Historical Society with the museum’s annual meeting's theme of remembrance, which showcased historic clips of Maryland history, one of which included “Behind the Scenes at Hutzler’s.” The costume collection team expanded upon this memorialization of the Hutzler’s department store by setting up…


An Introduction to Dress Mounting

July 5th 2017

      Preparing garments for display involves a blend of experience and creativity, as I learned this month during our preparations for Maryland Historical Society’s Annual Meeting on June 28th. Our display at the event featured objects from the now-closed Hutzler Brother's department store, including the dresses and coat…