1810 Dress

Date: ca. 1810 - Material: Unbleached Cotton - Accession: 2001.191.1.001

The simplicity of this dress embodies republican ideals of unpretentious personal display by embracing a fabric that was accessible across class lines. In reality, however, a woman expected to work could not very well wear white. Stylistically, the lines of this gown with its tubular shape reflect a Greek column. These lines, accompanied by its squared neckline, “Empire” (high) waist, and white color are based on classic Greek dress forms. This white-on-white embroidered one-piece dress is embellished on both the bodice and the hem of the skirt. French knots comprise a majority of the embroidery stitches. The bodice has short puffed sleeves and an open neckline. The skirt is gathered in the back and is adjusted with a draw string. The gown’s loose, straight lines did not require corseting or petticoats, but a lighter chemise, allowing fairly free movement.

Donated to the University of Illinois Bevier Historic Costume Collection by John T. Maxwell. Property transfer to the Illinois State Museum, 2001.