A exhibit at Vassar College examines the evolution of women’s student fashions from the 1860s to the 1950s.
This silk moire taffeta day dress with leg-o’-mutton sleeves dates from about 1895. The decorative velvet lapels and stand-up collar are inspired by menswear. According to the student curators, these details bespeak the desire for college-educated women to fit into a male world during the Gilded Age.
The exhibit gives a rare opportunity for artists to sketch antique dresses from observation. I made the drawing with violet and ochre colored pencils and a water brush. The dress was green, but I didn’t bring any green pencils, so I just picked two opposite colors and let them duke it out.
Fashioning an Education: 150 Years of Vassar Students and What They Wore is at the James W. Palmer III Gallery at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York through June 12, 2011. It's free and open to the public. The exhibition will be open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 1:00 to 4:00pm. For more information, call 845.437.5250.
While you’re in town, Vassar’s art museum also has an exhibit on Thomas Rowlandson and a nice collection of Hudson River School sketches. Nearby at the Mill Street Loft is the “Our Towns” cityscape exhibit.
Related book: Clothing through American History: Civil War through the Gilden Age
Caran d’Ache pencils
Niji water brush