N.C. Fashion Exhibit Reopens With New Clothing Selections
From plaids to pillbox hats to Pucci, more than 200 years of fashion come together in the exhibit, "What We Wore in North Carolina," reopening with a new selection of clothing items at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh.
Proving popular during its first run, the exhibit will feature fashions from the colonial period to the 1980s.
"What We Wore in North Carolina" will be on view until Oct. 7. Admission is free.
Whether you're mad for madras or favor Ferragamo, see diverse styles that reveal glimpses of North Carolina's costume history. Feast your eyes on items ranging from a 1795 woman's jacket to a 1980s pair of men's "preppy" plaid slacks. Topping off the exhibit is an array of hats, shoes, fans and accessories.
Several items from well-known North Carolinians are on view, such as the trademark red bow tie worn by Thad Eure Sr., North Carolina's secretary of state from 1936 to 1989.
You can't miss the signature print of a 1960s Pucci silk dress owned by Patric Dorsey, former secretary of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.
And for sports fans, the ball cap of baseball great Walter F. "Buck" Leonard, who played 17 seasons for the Negro National League's Homestead (Pennsylvania) Grays, joins other items, such as a 1946 letter sweater from N.C. State College (now N.C. State University).
"What We Wore in North Carolina" illustrates how changes within the state have influenced styles. For example, fabric shortages during the Civil War meant women had to make do with clothing on hand or make cloth themselves.
Much fabric went toward Confederate uniforms, such as the exhibit's wool uniform coat owned by Brig. Gen. Richard Caswell Gatlin.
World War II brought shortages as well, which led to government bans on designs with excess cloth. However, the good times and fabric bolts rolled after the war.
Full skirts, wide lapels and cuffed sleeves hit their heyday, as evident in a 1950s bronze-colored taffeta dress in the exhibit.
"What We Wore in North Carolina" features items that are foreign to today's vocabulary. What was once an everyday object now seems a curiosity. Some examples follow.
- Ladies wore tightly laced corsets and bustles underneath their dresses for a fashionable figure in the late 1800s. If you were lucky, you had a bustle that was collapsible so you could sit easily.
- Fabric spats, or spatterdashes, were worn over walking shoes around the turn of the 20th century. Fashionable and warm, they also hid a woman's ankles.
- In the 1800s, boys customarily wore skirts until they were between ages 4 and 6. Exhibit visitors will see a boy's navy wool dress from 1879.
- High-top ladies' buttoned shoes in the early 1900s required a buttonhook -- and patience -- for fastening.
In "What We Wore in North Carolina," follow the evolution of changes in designs, trends, colors and fabrics. In the late 1960s, for instance, the minidress reached its height in popularity, and many rejoiced when no-iron polyester clothes arrived in stores. The 1980s brought psychedelic colors (perfect for discos), wide use of metallic fibers, and other fashion innovations.
The N.C. Museum of History's hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
The museum is part of the Division of State History Museums, Office of Archives and History, an agency of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.
The department's Web site is www.ncculture.com.
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