‘Dress Code‘ through the years
Museum exhibition showcases women’s fashions from 1800s to today
Looking for inspiration while dressing up for holiday parties?
Consider visiting the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. The museum’s exhibition “Dress Code” opens today.
It features about three dozen outfits – some dressy, some practical – worn by women from the 1800s to the present.
Most of the “costumes” come from the museum’s collections, donated over the decades. Five are loaners, including Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire’s second inaugural gown, which she also wore to President Obama’s inaugural in 2009.
“Dress Code” complements “Women’s Votes, Women’s Voices” a major MAC exhibition about the 100-year quest for equality by Washington state women, which runs through May 7.
Clothes, an expression of the personal, also reflect the political realities in which women live out their private lives.
For instance, during the 1840s, early suffragists rebelled against the 15 pounds of corsets, slips and “hardware” in typical Victorian-era dresses.
They donned “Turkish” trousers, inspiring the Dress Reform Movement that exposed the negative health consequences of wearing corsets.
Fashion rebels were the exception, however. A major theme of “Dress Code” is how women have conformed to the ideal of the era they live in.
“We’ve nipped. We’ve tucked. We’ve scrunched,” said Ginger Ewing, the museum’s curator for cultural literacy.
“What do our clothes say about us?”
Four MAC women involved in the exhibit recently picked out their favorite “Dress Code” outfits. Enjoy their sneak preview.