This is a place for anyone to post their questions about any objects in the collection, or about the collection in general. This is not just limited to participants – anyone can post a question or a research idea. We have many unanswered questions right now, and listing them all in one place should help to guide our continued research. Each question has the potential to become a research project, and we may see some themes emerge.

The longer this list gets, the better shape we’ll be in to shape a cohesive exhibition at the end – projects that don’t seem related at the beginning could end up having more in common than you might think.

I’ll start us off with a few examples that came up today, in no particular order,
and you can continue to add more as comments below
(if your questions are specific to a particular garment, please include the title and accession number, or if we’ve posted about it elsewhere on the blog, please link to that post)

  • for some of our sheer garments, what would have been worn underneath them?
  • for a bodice with no matching skirt, what kind of skirt would have been worn with it?
  • when did plastics start to appear in clothing (as sequins, beads, closures, etc.)?
  • if a Victorian dress is black, was it a mourning dress?
  • taking foundation garments into consideration (corsets, hoopskirts, etc.) what size woman would have worn each object? how does her size compare to other women of her time? to today?
  • who worked on making each object – who designed it? who made the pattern? who worked on the construction?
  • who sold the object, or the materials to make it?

5 Responses to “Questions”

  1.   %s Says:'), get_comment_author_link()) ?>

    here’s another:

    for a garment with lace, was it handmade or machine made? imported or locally made?

  2.   %s Says:'), get_comment_author_link()) ?>

    I discussed possible research topics with Arden. I am still kind of unclear about where I want to go with it, but since I was interested in later periods such as the 1960s or 1920s we talked about maybe comparing a more recent garment from one of these periods to a less stable garment from an earlier period. I could compare and contrast formal elements such as silhouette, beading, lace, etc. to try and figure out what the fashions reflected about other cultural implications. We also discussed the idea of how fashions reflected the liberation of women throughout history and also how Vassar history might tie into this.

  3.   %s Says:'), get_comment_author_link()) ?>

    One of the issues we dealt with in my group yesterday was this question: when were sewing machines introduced in the construction of garments? And further, when did people who made their own clothing in their own homes, rather than professional dressmakers, begin to use sewing machines? This would really help us identify time period as well as distinguish between original stitching and later costume-alterations.

    Another question we had that would help with our sense of time periods is: Is there a good resource to look at to get a sense of what kind of textile patterns and colors were popular during which time periods? Are these trends pronounced enough to be able to help us, or do some patterns/colors just not belong strongly enough to any one time period to be able to help us?

    Another thing that came up was: In what time period(s) did people utilize boning in standing collars? Was this a common trend, and for what type of dress?

    Finally, this isn’t really a question but just a comment to remind everyone: In one of the pieces we worked on yesterday, (I can’t remember which piece it was or what type of sleeve we had decided it was, but I think Emily knew), there was a sleeve that was fitted at the top and then became much fuller and more gathered toward the cuff. We thought this was an early-nineteenth century style originally, but Arden reminded us that this was probably a later piece with a sleeve style that was a throwback to the earlier style. So, we should all just remember that that these trends recycle, and that we should look at many aspects of the pieces in conjunction when trying to identify time period!

  4.   %s Says:'), get_comment_author_link()) ?>

    Recently we encountered a few pieces made from a fabric with a pattern on it, and encountered questions about methods of dying fabric and making patterns. Were patterns additive or subtractive? If this changed over time, why?

    Also, sometimes we come across pieces whose patterns we don’t necessarily associate with their time periods. Why do we have these impressions and where did these seemingly more “modern” patterns come from?

  5.   %s Says:'), get_comment_author_link()) ?>

    Can you please give me any information that you may have about what I consider to be a robe that my grandmother gave me approximately 35 years ago? It appears to be a full length green velour/velvet robe with gold trim on the shoulders, back, chest, and throughout. The lining is a black fabric. It also has a braided green belt/sash. The label reads Russell and Allen, Old Bond Street, London.Any information that you may have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


    Lamar Spradley

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