Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Date Created

c. 1923


Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses


Silk satin, silk chiffon, bugle beads


c. 1923. Sleeveless one-piece knee-length sheath dress made with an under-layer of pale gold silk satin and an overlay of pale tangerine silk chiffon with bands of silvered beads, with a matching pale tangerine silk chiffon vest.

The bodice has no shaping and is cut from one rectangle of silk satin, made to wrap around the chest beneath the arms with no shoulder straps. The rectangle is sewn together with a 28.6 cm / 11.25 in. long seam at the left side, and has a shallow dart at the right side. Two narrow strips, 3.2 cm / 1.25 in. wide, are added in at the left side seam to widen the panel. The skirt is also made from one panel, sewn together at the left with a 57.2 cm / 22.5 in. long seam. The waist seam joining bodice to skirt is 108 cm / 42.5 in. around and is dropped below the natural waist level. There are no openings or closures.

At the front of the bodice, a panel of sheer pale gold silk chiffon, 8.9 cm / 3.5 in. longer than the satin, is sewn to the foundation dress at the sides and waist. It rises higher at the neckline than the satin does and forms a scooped neck, shoulder straps, and armholes. It is sewn at the sides and shoulder seams to another panel of crepe, 16.5 cm / 6.5 in. deep, itself sewn to the top of the foundation layer in back. The skirt has a sheer pale tangerine silk chiffon overlay made of one rectangular panel 63.5 cm / 25 in. long, currently open at the right front. This has eleven strips of chiffon sewn in horizontal rows from the waist seam to the hem, machine-sewn with silvered bugle beads in meanders and triple horizontal rows. They are free to move and shimmy. The row at the hem is fully sewn down at its top and bottom edges, but the ten rows above it are attached only at the top of each strip, each overhanging the row beneath. The dress is made to pull on over the head with no openings for dressing.

A vest made from one piece of sheer pale tangerine chiffon, sewn only at the 10.2 cm / 4 in. wide shoulder seams, is edged all the way around its hem and opening with a length of the bugle-bead-sewn chiffon. There are seven strips of the fabric sewn horizontally between the hem and the armhole, all attached only at the top, free to move and shimmy. The vest is 41.9 cm / 16.5 in. long at the sides, extending past the dropped waist of the dress. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Bust: 104.1 cm / 41 in.
Waist (dropped): 108 cm / 42.5 in.
Hem (skirt): 127 cm / 50 in.
Hem (vest): 105.4 cm / 41.5 in.
Length (overlay neckline to hem in front): 106.7 cm / 42 in.
Length (overlay neckline to hem in back): 118.1 cm / 46.5 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. 1932, One-piece dresses, Sheath-dresses, Knee-length, Scooped neckline, Pale gold (color), Silk satin, Pale tangerine (color), Silk chiffon, Crepe, Silvered beads, Bugle beads, Vest, Dropped waist, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn