Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Date Created

c. 1920


Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses


Silk crepe, silk plain weave


c. 1920. Dark taupe silk crepe dress, calf-length, with short sleeves and attached overskirt panels, opening at the side and trimmed with machine embroidery, cord, and matte gold beads.

The dress itself has little shaping but is made on a lining more fitted to the body. The lining is a white plain weave silk with two center-front panels pleated to a 7.3 cm / 2.875 in. wide grosgrain ribbon waist stay and a shaped six-panel back with a center-back seam, also pleated to the waist stay. It has a center-front opening with eleven hooks and eyes. The taupe silk crepe bodice has one panel in front and one in back, joined at the right side seam and the right shoulder, and is sewn to the lining along the slightly scooped neckline from the top of the left shoulder, across the back, and to the right center front. The hem is also sewn to the waist stay from the left side, across the back, and to the right center front, pouching slightly as the bodice is slightly longer than the lining. The left front of the bodice is left unlined and is not sewn down in order to allow access to the center front lining opening; it wraps over the lining and closes at the 25.4 cm / 10 in. long left side seam with eight snaps, then wraps around the left sleeve to close at the at the left shoulder with two snaps. This closure method means that while the right sleeve is sewn into the bodice itself as usual, a 27.9 cm / 11 in. wide patch of the crepe is added to the lining around the left scye and the left sleeve is sewn to this, preventing the lining from showing through any gaps when the front panel is secured.

The skirt is made of two panels sewn at the sides and slightly gathered to the waist stay, with the fabric remaining free at the left front where it attaches to the waist stay with three snaps and one hook before securing to the side seam opening with three more snaps. There is no lining in the skirt. A floating apron-like panel of taupe crepe 91.4 cm / 36 in. wide and 76.2 cm / 30 in. long is gathered to a 6.7 cm / 2.625 in. wide sash, which is attached to the waist seam in front with bar tacks. Next to this in back on the left side is a floating panel of the same length but just 21.6 cm / 8.5 in. wide. From there the sash wraps around the back of the dress and is tied in the right side, next to the front floating panel, visually balancing the narrow floating panel on the left. The skirt hem has been released by 13 cm / 5.125 in. and would originally have matched the level of the floating panels.

Machine embroidery, couched cord, matte gold beads, and seed beads are sewn into vines, scallops, trefoils, wreaths, fleur-de-lis, and meanders that embellish the bodice hem, sleeves, and most of the front floating panel. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Bust: 86.4 cm / 34 in.
Waist (dropped): 88.9 cm / 35 in.
Sleeve: 29.2 cm / 11.5 in.
Hem: 121.9 cm / 48 in.
Length (skirt): 88.9 cm / 35 in.

Museum Number



University of New Hampshire Library


Astrida Schaeffer, photographer/curator

Date Digitized


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License


The Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection digital catalog was produced by the UNH Library Digital Collection Initiative, supported in part by a grant from the Mooseplate program and New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Additional funding provided by the E. Ruth Buxton Stephenson Memorial Fund.
Photography copyright, Astrida Schaeffer.


Dresses, c. 1920, Silk crepe, Dark taupe (color), Short sleeves, Calf-length, Overskirt panels, Machine embroidery, Couched cord, Beads, Gold (color), Seed beads, Vines, Scallops (patterns), Trefoils (geometric motifs), Wreaths, Fleur-de-lis (motif), Meanders (patterns), Silk, White (color), Waist stay ribbon, Hooks and eyes, Snaps, Sash, Bar tacks, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn