Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses


Silk chiffon, silk voided velvet


1920s. Sleeveless one-piece knee-length sheath dress made with unlined orange silk chiffon and a matching orange chiffon with voided cream velvet pile overlay open at the sides.

The dress bodice has no shaping and is cut from one piece of sheer orange silk chiffon, 35.6 cm / 14 in. high, which wraps around the torso beneath the arms and meets at the back of the left side where it is secured with eight snaps. There are two 33 cm / 13 in. long darts in front at the bust and 2.54 cm / 1 in. wide shoulder straps 34.9 cm / 13.75 in. long. The skirt is a rectangle 68.6 cm / 27 in. long and 124.5 cm / 49 in. wide, sewn together at the right side, and is gathered directly to the already-hemmed bodice. A short slit beneath the opening in the bodice is closed with two snaps. The waist seam is dropped.

The voided velvet overlay has a deeply scooped neckline in both front and back and has 5.1 cm / 2 in. wide shoulder straps. It is completely open at the sides of the bodice and the right side of the skirt, and is attached to the underdress only at the shoulder straps and at the right front hip. The dress has two pieces: a front bodice panel and a J-shaped panel with the back bodice and entire overlay skirt cut as one unit. The front bodice panel is a trapezoid, 33 cm / 13 in. wide at the shoulders, 43.2 cm / 17 in. wide at the waist seam, and 52.1 cm / 20.5 in. long. A piece of orange chiffon, 55.9 cm / 22 in. long and 26.7 cm / 10.5 in. wide, is sewn to the bottom edge of the bodice with 6.4 cm / 2.5 in. extending past it on both sides. The chiffon is then gathered into horizontal folds, with its ends stitched down to 6.4 cm / 2.5 in., forming a partial sash. The left sash end is sewn to the back panel at the waistline, and a matching bow with a long streamer is sewn to the right side. The back panel is 110.5 cm / 43.5 in. long from shoulder to skirt hem, matching the front shoulder width where the two panels are sewn together, and widening slightly toward the waistline which is 54.6 cm / 21.5 in. down from the shoulder seam and where the fabric is gathered vertically beneath the sash end and the bow to create soft horizontal folds across the back waist. Below this, the remaining 66 cm / 26 in. of length forms the back of the skirt. More fabric extends from the left side of the back below the waistline to become the rest of the overlay skirt. The first 15.2 cm / 6 in. of this skirt extension are gathered down to 6.4 cm / 2.5 in. and sewn to the sash, bridging the gap between front and back panels at the left side. The remaining skirt fabric is gathered to the front overlay bodice hem beneath the sash, which covers the waist seam when it drapes. The skirt ends in line with the right side of the front bodice, leaving a gap between back and front. The right end of the sash is tacked to the underdress, and hooks to the chiffon bow thereby joining the front and back panels. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Bust: 66 cm / 36 in.
Waist (dropped): 99.1 cm / 39 in.
Hem (underdress): 124.5 cm / 49 in.
Hem (overlay): 116.8 cm / 46 in.
Length (overall): 116.8 cm / 46 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, 1920s, One-piece dresses, Sheath dresses, Knee-length, Sleeveless, Scooped neckline, Dropped waist, Silk chiffon, Orange (color), Voided velvet, Cream (color), Snaps, Darts, Sash, Bows (costume accessories), Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn