How cute and cool for summer days…

Women’s clothing in the 1920s was certainly better suited to the hot, muggy Charleston summers than that of previous decades. Fewer and looser undergarments and a lot more skin showing were the keys.

These three garments are from the Cox-Gordon family, a prominent African American family in Charleston.  The collection that came to the Museum in 2007 centered around Theodosia Cox Gordon Robinson (1874-1947) and these three were probably made by her for one of her daughters, Beatrice or Eloise.

The flowered crinkled crepe robe or hostess coat is marked Tokyo Crepe in the selvage. It is open down the front with no fastenings, but has a wonderful pair of silk cord tassels. This cool cotton crepe would have been reasonably priced at the time, around 39 cents/yard. Wouldn’t this be perfect for relaxing around the house?

The two dresses – pink and white dotted voile and blue printed crepe – feature the sheath styling of the ‘20s with even some ruffles for a “flapper” look. The blue dress has two long “ties” extending from the shoulder seams. Perhaps these were for a built-in necklace?

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.

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