Skirts rose in the 1920s – for the first time in Western fashion history women showed their legs in public. And the silhouette was a radical change from the rather stiff previous decades. This little dress, a soft cream china silk with brocaded dot pattern, has three scalloped flounces falling from the stylish low waist. It came to the Museum in 2007 with a collection of garments from the African American Cox-Gordon family of Charleston. The collection centered around Theodosia Cox Gordon Robinson (1874-1947) and this dress was probably made by her for one of her daughters, Beatrice or Eloise.
Theodosia was born in Cheraw, SC – the daughter of Thomas Campbell Cox and Elizabeth Singleton, members of the Charleston “mulatto elite.” After her mother’s death in 1875, Theodosia was adopted by a paternal aunt, Julia Cox Gordon of Charleston. She was educated at Shaw Memorial School and Claflin University, earning a Peabody bronze medal in 1889. Theodosia then worked for the Bureau of Engraving & Printing in Washington, DC, married John H. Robinson in 1907 and had three children.
This dress is currently in the Museum’s exhibition Seasonal Fashion: Springtime in Charleston, featuring an array of early 20th century garden party dresses, hats, parasols and floral needlework.
TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection. Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday