Although fashions changed slowly in previous centuries, during the one-hundred year time line of this exhibit women’s fashions changed every two to ten years. Fashionable women of the late 1860s wore wide, floor length skirts over hoop petticoats with tight boned bodices. A century later, fashions for women changed to knee-length, one piece, unfitted A-line dresses. During the intervening years, waistlines moved up and down (and sometimes went away), skirts alternated between full and straight, and hemlines moved up and down.
This 14-page commemorative booklet is available for purchase in the
Museum's Gift Shoppe.
Volunteer Teresa Knutson coordinates the historic clothing exhibits. She holds a degree in Costume and Textile Design with graduate work in Costume and Textile History. Beginning in 2006, Teresa has inventoried all of the clothing and textiles in the collection, cataloguing over 230 historic garments.
Teresa’s credits include volunteer experience at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Keeler Tavern in Ridgefield, CT and the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, CO. For 10 years, she was a seamstress and patternmaker for the Minnesota Opera Company.
Teresa is thankful to be working with the Mansion’s amazing costume collection. Since 2011, volunteer Sarah Safford has assisted Teresa.
100 Years of Fashion
with the Conrads
Until the early years of the nineteenth century women’s fashions bore little resemblance to a woman’s body shape. Women achieved a fashionable silhouette with corsets, padding, bustles, hoop skirts, and layers of petticoats. Around 1907 silhouette shapes became less exaggerated but undergarments still provided the basic shapes, even continuing into the straight up and down silhouette of the 1920s.
Great transformations took place in the way clothing was obtained during the one hundred years of the exhibit. In the 1860s, wealthy and middle class men wore custom clothing made by tailors, while working class men wore ready-made clothing obtained from stores. Dressmakers fashioned clothing for most women in the 1860s except women who made their own and their children’s clothing out of necessity. Almost all women’s clothing was available ready-made in 1910, and by the 1960s almost everyone wore ready-made clothing.
1868 White Corded Cotton Bodice with Drape
This historic clothing exhibit chronicles changing fashions and the contemporaneous changes in the Conrad family between 1868 and 1968. Because the Conrads were a wealthy family, the exhibit highlights the height of fashion between those years.
The exhibit consists of 22 mannequins showing changes in the shape of clothing worn by men, women and children. Garments are displayed along with silhouettes to illustrate how shapes changed as parts of the body were emphasized.