What better fashion for a lovely spring day in Charleston than a straw hat? Men and women, especially in a climate like Charleston’s, have loved straw hats of all kinds. The man’s boater was popular and stylish from the late 19th century well into the 1940s.

Our classic boater is a sharp Knox Fifth Avenue example with a wide blue striped ribbon band. It was worn in Charleston by George Stephen deMerell (1893-1989). Our collection also contains two additional men’s boaters, both in very poor condition, but both with Charleston retailer labels. A. Beauregard Betancourt (1861-1944) began his haberdashery career with C. C. Plenge, the oldest hat store in South Carolina, at the corner of Broad & Church Streets. He bought the business in 1910, modernizing and improving over the years. The label is also stamped with the owner’s name, R. B. Comar – for Robert B. Comar (1901-1976), who started as a shipping clerk and progressed to vice president of a steamship company in the 1930s. He probably wore this hat in the 1920s and 1930s.

Our other Charleston retailer label is from Berlin Bros. / Downtown / Clothiers & Furnishers / Charleston, S.C. Samuel and Benjamin Berlin took over the business (founded by their father Henry Berlinsky in 1883) in 1912, at the corner of King & Broad Streets. The store continues today as a premier shop for fine clothing. The hat was made by the Townsend Grace Company of New York & Baltimore. Founded in 1885, the company was one of three large straw hat makers in Baltimore, making it the Straw Hat Capitol of the U.S. in the 1920s. At that time the industry had over 3000 workers and produced three million straw hats annually.

Our ladies straw hat offering for spring is this wonderful woven corn shuck hat encircled with sprays of dried flowers and grasses. It too probably dates to the 1920s, with its deep, domed, close-fitting crown. It is lined with white silk.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our 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

These fabulous French silk boots were the height of fashion in the 1870s. Bearing a label from “Gartrell / A La Providence / Rue St. Honoré / No. 359 Paris,” they are made of finely ribbed silk with delicate lace trim. Each shoe has seven embossed pewter buttons, extending up over the ankle. The French heel is covered in the same white silk. Paris was the fashion hub of the world, with designers and specialty shoe establishments lining the Rue St. Honoré. Even today, it is probably the most fashionable street in the world, with many major houses and brands there.

These shoes were worn by Gertrude Ellen Dupuy Sanford (1841-1902) and were given to the Museum by her granddaughter, Gertrude Sanford Legendre in 1980.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our 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

It’s April Fools Day – so let’s look at what many thought was a foolish fashion. The hoop crinoline and huge skirt of the mid 19th century was the source of much satire and derision. But the fashion-setters remained undeterred for almost a decade.

Yes, the new, lightweight hoop replaced the heavy layers of petticoats to extend the skirt to a circumference of six to eight feet, but at what cost? As the cartoons of the day show, any number of mishaps could occur – from brushing too close to the fire and going up in flames, to getting tangled in the carriage hardware resulting in an embarrassing tumble. Getting close enough to a fashionable lady could prove difficult for a gentleman dancing partner or a server delivering a party treat. These cartoons suggested the wearer could become airborne in a strong breeze or could hide all sorts of mischief beneath the wide berth. Indeed, more than one Confederate lady was said to have smuggled supplies and information hidden in special pockets under their voluminous skirts. Emeline Pigott of North Carolina reputedly carried up to 30 pounds of goods to aid Confederate soldiers, as did Mary Kate Patterson of Tennessee and others.

Nevertheless, the lilting motion of the almost floating skirt was appealing for many and was again seen in 1950s party-wear and for many wedding gowns. The wide skirt makes the waist appear even smaller, a truly desirable trait in the mid 19th century.

Our museum collection dress today is a beautiful figured cream moiré silk taffeta, trimmed with black lace. The dropped shoulders and v-bodice focuses on that tiny waist. Ours even has a hidden pocket (though this one is quite small) in the right front seam. It is currently on exhibit in Fashion in Fiction, up until April 22, 2014.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our 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

This lovely dress was the wedding dress of Anne Porcher Mazyck (1820-1881) who married Gabriel Manigault (1809-1888) on November 4, 1846. The sheer organdy dress has a pleated and ruched bodice, extending into a point below the waistline where the full skirt is tightly gathered. Around the lower portion of the full skirt is a band of beautiful floral embroidery. The round neckline and short sleeves are trimmed with gathered tarlatan; the sleeves also have two narrow bands of silk braid. One sleeve even has a tiny white leather orange blossom bud pinned on. The entire garment is lined with cream silk. The hooks and eyes are missing from the back opening.

While extremely yellowed with age (and remnants of original starch), the dress is still charming in its feminine silhouette, so popular during the 1840s.

Anne was the daughter or Philip Porcher Mazyck and Mary Stanyarne of Charleston. Her husband, Gabriel, was the son of Joseph Manigault and Charlotte Drayton, also of Charleston. He was born in his parents’ house in Wraggborough, now the Joseph Manigault House, open to the public and operated by the Charleston Museum. Gabriel was a staunch supporter of the Confederacy, a signer of the Ordinance of Secession and a Colonel during the war. Several years after the war, he moved his entire family and some other relatives to London, Ontario, to escape a life under Yankee domination.

They had six children, including Edward Middleton Manigault who married Harriet Winstar Barnwell. They were the parents of Ann Mazyck Manigault, who donated the dress to the Museum in 1960.

**The dress will be on display at the Joseph Manigault House for the special Women’s History Month tour tomorrow, March 26, 2014.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our 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

In honor of Charleston Fashion Week, we take a look at an interesting, and very fashionable, 1870s dress. This gold silk two-piece dress is embroidered all-over with turquoise stars. Slim-fitting in front, the skirt pulls back to accommodate the popular bustle, dwindling a bit by 1876 after rather extravagant fullness in the earlier ‘70s. Throughout this period, trimmings abounded on dresses, this one having contrasting turquoise collar, puffed oversleeves and wide sashing down the front, culminating with a wide belt and mother-of-pearl buckle. The skirt is ornamented with a wide satin band around the hem and two lines of corded lacing, ending in glorious tassels.

This lovely dress was worn in Charleston by Frances Olmsted Marshall (1845-1929). She was the daughter of Episcopal minister, Aaron F. Olmsted and Caroline C. Cook. Frances married Richard Maynard Marshall of Charleston in 1872 and had five children. The dress came to the Museum from her granddaughter, Alida Dana Canfield Sinkler in 1957.

The dress was given with a second bodice, much plainer but with delightful star covered buttons down the front. Studying this bodice, one sees that the sleeves have been cut off as has the bottom of the bodice, raw edges still showing. The style of this bodice appears to date to the 1860s rather than 1870s – the jewel neckline, the double vertical darts in front and the center front fastening from neck to waist. What if Frances had a much plainer dress in the 1860s, complete with very full skirt (and lots of beautiful starry fabric) and had it remade into a more stylish gown for the 1870s? The sleeves could have been re-used, with any problems or shortness concealed by the blue silk oversleeves, and a new bodice constructed using some of the bountiful skirt fabric. The addition of the dazzling blue silk, lacing and bustle rendered the garment totally new – and in style – years later.

On exhibit in Fashion in Fiction, October 19, 2013 to April 6, 2014

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our 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

Pert and pretty and definitely green, this 1950s cocktail dress would be perfect for a St. Patrick’s Day party. Jade green chiffon over green taffeta, the full skirt has a green net petticoat for the stylish bouffant look of the day. The boat neckline softly drapes over the shoulders, echoing the cummerbund-style waistband. The ballerina length was popular in the 1950s as was the V-style back neckline. It has a label: Lorrie Deb / San Francisco, a clothing line first launched in November 1950.

This dress was worn by a daughter of Alvin Arthur & Frances Cains Burbage of Charleston, probably Mary Frances, who was born around 1940.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our 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

Fashions of the 1970s were definitely over the top, as evidenced by this stunning aqua evening dress. It is overlaid with aqua chiffon covered with large abstract floral designs – some painted, some appliquéd colored taffeta (pin, blue, purple, yellow and lime green) edged with gold metallic embroidery and embellished with gold sequins and rhinestones. It has a high corded waistline, popular for the period, with a slightly gathered long skirt. The bodice is only partially lined, leaving the long sleeves and upper bodice sheer. It has a zipper closure in back and bears a label: “Elinor Simmons / for Malcolm Starr® / Made in The British Crown Colony of Hong Kong.”

This amazing dress was worn by Alice LeMacks Patrick here in Charleston to the wedding of Robert Lockwood and Jean Louise Schill on August 22, 1970. Alice had been given this dress by Blossom Krawcheck, of Krawcheck’s Ladies Companion Shop at 313 King Street. This was part of the fashionable Jack Krawcheck men’s clothing business, originally opened in 1922 and closing in 1995, long after his death.

Malcolm Starr (1924-2008) was head of the popular American ready-to-wear company started by his father in the 1940s. He was one of the first to lease factories in India and China for manufacturing and operated boutiques in Hong Kong and Japan. After his father’s death in 1969, Malcolm ran the business until 1976. One of the designer names associated with Malcolm Starr was Elinor (Rizkallah) Simmons from the early 1960s until 1972. Their simple lines were often enhanced by elaborate beading and embroidery, the work done in Hong Kong.

This dress is currently on exhibit in Fashion Flashback: 1970s (January 18 to April 27, 2014)

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our 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

These two designer bags were made in 2003 and signed by Charleston designer, Mary K. Norton. They were retailed under her Moo Roo / Charleston label at her shop at 316 King Street. 

The black satin purse with three fabric magnolias is entitled Southern Lady. The stiff fabric bag has a flap over the font, closing with a magnetic button. It is lined with black satin. 

The flamboyant ostrich feather bag is entitled Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The flowing feather extend beyond the bottom of the bag. It is open at the top with a small flap to close with a magnetic button and the bag is lined with black satin.

Mary K. Norton founded her company in 1998; within eight years it grew to international proportions and locations. She created handbags and shoes for the stars. Her whimsical yet sophisticated designs appealed on many levels and found favor with both red carpet stars and stylish clients. Her boutiques were forced to close in 2009, but in 2010 she restarted her Moo Roo brand and is now even back on King Street at Art Mecca of Charleston.

Both bags are on exhibit in Fashion Accessories: Purses January 25 – April 27, 2014

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our 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

Get ready for Valentines Day with this gorgeous red velvet dress from the 1920s. Perfect also for a set on Downton Abbey, the red silk velvet sheath dress has a wide self-belt or sash trimmed with long copper beaded fringe. Beading and sequin ornamentation embellish the neck, armholes and front center along with wonderful stylized flowers all over the skirt. The dress simply slips over the head with no additional opening or fasteners, but the skirt is slit up the front, concealed by the wide sash.

This fashionable garment bears a label from Adair / 4 Cité Paradis / Paris and was made probably in the mid to late 1920s. The House of Adair made beaded dresses in France for export to the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. Their peak of production was in 1924-1925, closing their doors in the 1930s.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our 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

This stylish early 20th century purse or handbag is luscious red velvet with red leather side and bottom gussets. The front scalloped pocket is ornamented with red leather pointed ovals studded with steel beads. The bag has a steel frame with knob clasp and the red velvet handle attaches to the frame with steel fittings shaped like hands grasping the frame. Elegant but also practical, it is lined with tan cotton.
The purse came to the Museum in 2007 from the granddaughter of Eulalie Northrop Wall, Marion, S.C. It was found in a trunk of her things, including her wedding dress from 1912. Helen Eulalie Northrop was born in Idaho in 1891 but married John Furman Wall, a Marion, S.C. native. His military service took him around the globe during and after World War I. She died in 1964 and they are both buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Perhaps this wonderful purse dates to around the time of her marriage.
See this purse and many more in our exhibit Fashion Accessories: Purses!
TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our 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

This stylish early 20th century purse or handbag is luscious red velvet with red leather side and bottom gussets. The front scalloped pocket is ornamented with red leather pointed ovals studded with steel beads. The bag has a steel frame with knob clasp and the red velvet handle attaches to the frame with steel fittings shaped like hands grasping the frame. Elegant but also practical, it is lined with tan cotton.

The purse came to the Museum in 2007 from the granddaughter of Eulalie Northrop Wall, Marion, S.C. It was found in a trunk of her things, including her wedding dress from 1912. Helen Eulalie Northrop was born in Idaho in 1891 but married John Furman Wall, a Marion, S.C. native. His military service took him around the globe during and after World War I. She died in 1964 and they are both buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Perhaps this wonderful purse dates to around the time of her marriage.

See this purse and many more in our exhibit Fashion Accessories: Purses!

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our 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