Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Museum: The White Dresses

Many of you asked to see more of the wedding dress collection yesterday.


We have a room in the museum called the Toggery.  It is filled with clothing and hats.  One area has vintage white/off white wedding dresses, hats and veils.  Another area has wedding dresses that are dark colors. I do not have photos of the dark dresses..perhaps next summer I will take more photos in this room.  This room is tucked away in the back of the museum.  It had heavy red theater style draperies to block out the sunlight.  Last September this was one of the rooms that I insisted must have special window tinting to block out the UV rays.  I was very happy to take down the heavy drapes, even though the north view is not wonderful, the natural light makes a big difference. This room also has some men’s clothing and some children’s gowns and a collection of shoes that make your feet hurt just looking at them.  Most ladies and little girls enjoy their visit through this room. IMG_5724

White was not always the color of wedding gowns.  In the late 1800’s black was a common color. Why?  Because black was a practical color, it would not show the dirt and the dress could be worn again for special occasions.   If you were a normal everyday person your wedding dress was black or some other suitable dark color.  If your family had money then you would most likely have a white gown.

Wedding 1888to 1893  Flaten in Fargo DL Antiques

Flaten Photo three plain back DL Antiques1894 to 1895

These photos were taken within a year or two of each other.  Taken by brothers that were photographers in Fargo and Moorhead. * Note both photos feature the same style dress, large upper sleeves but tight sleeves down the arm. The brides are wearing a wedding bonnet that has been decorated with flowers and greens. Very fashionable for the years 1893 to 1895.IMG_5716

The waists are really tiny and women for the most part were much shorter than we are now.  Their waists were tiny quite naturally and this tiny look was aided by corsets.  Nutrition was not what it is today.  Fresh vegetables and fruits were seasonal at best, and then stored for the winter. The gown pictured above has the pigeon breast style of the early 1900’s. ( Think bird.. heavy breasted in the front often achieved by stuffing paper in the front of a dress or blouse that had folds of extra fabric in the front..some people called this a monobosom.)

Many of the gowns need repair…careful repair.  Some gowns are packed away in boxes under the display cabinets.  This room needs to be adopted by a group of ladies or men and given some TLC.  I am fundraising for more mannequins or dress forms for this room. A Legacy Grant was applied for and refused last year. They thought we should update our storage areas instead of displaying more clothing.  Sometimes I think that only idiots review grants.

I took these photos because I was making a wedding card for my niece, so they are just bits and pieces of the collection.  The entire collection needs to be photographed..just one of the many things on my to do list:)

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  1. What a beautiful collection. Mother's dress was blue. When it was time for mine, I convinced (forced) my aunt to help. We designed it together. Leg of mutton sleeves, with a high waisted laced covered bodice of white with a soft blue full lenth skirt. I called it my Juliet dress. I made my own veil. I could not imagine buying a dress for a wedding but times were different back during the civil war.

  2. Awesome old photos loved the post the history is amazing! Have a good day !

  3. What a feast - a perfect combination of photographs and fascinating descriptions.

  4. It never made sense to me to spend so much money for a dress that would only be worn once. I like the idea of dark dresses than can be used again. I also loved this post and enjoyed the history lesson. I do hope you are able to display more of these dresses eventually. I agree with you, I wonder who reviews grant proposals too. Certainly not people like us! :-)

  5. Dress forms are those hollow wire cage things?

    Nothing like a museum that stores all its artifacts. *rolls eyes*

  6. You are right, idiots review some of those grants. Let's see...a museum, where people come to SEE things so yes, you should update the STORAGE! :) I love the dresses and you did great with the photos.

  7. Very beautiful. I've always loved learning the history of clothing.

  8. Thanks for the fascinating pictures. I hope we can see more and that you can find a way to display all the wedding clothing. Things sure were different in those olden times. Oddly enough,though, black wedding wear is now in style or was last time I heard.

  9. It would be lovely if a guild or group of people could adopt the dresses, and repair them. There is so much history, wouldn't a June show be lovely, maybe others have some wedding artifacts they can submit...

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  10. I love Victorian and Edwardian clothing -- all that intricate sewing and fabrics to die for! Thanks for sharing these. I hope you get all the necessary items for your museum -- I only wish I could visit it.

  11. Beautiful! And I'm reminded again what an asset you are to that museum. Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams had a couple of great ideas.

  12. Aren't they beautiful?! I have my great grandmother's Day Dress that she wore the day after her wedding. They took a trip for a week and it is the dress she wore on the first day of the trip. There was money back there, that did NOT make its way on down to my generation or even to my Grandmother's generation. But, what the heck....we got the dress!


  13. Those are gorgeous dresses. Oh how I envy you getting to see and enjoy all those old things. There is a world full of memories and history around you.

  14. These dresses are fantastic! I learned a lot today, thank you. Great post.

  15. Informative and interesting for the eye, too. I learned a few things, which I always appreciate. :)

    More storage and less display--who decides these things? Geez! Oh yes...idiots. ;)

  16. How interesting. I enjoyed seeing the pictures you put up. I am captivated by thinking about what experiences the brides and grooms had in their years together.

  17. Beautiful old dresses. You captured the details which is not easy to do with anything white or off-white.

  18. Oh thank you sweetie, this was great!!! What an interestin' read it was. I thought my mom was gonna die right then and there when I told her my wedding gown was 'candle lit' (of the time) instead of the bright white dress Mom had imagined.

    For some silly reason she thought folks would look at me as less pure or something.

    Wonderful photos sweetie, they really let us see the details.

    God bless ya and have a beautiful day! :o)

  19. Beautiful dresses. Thanks for sharing.
    And...Laura Ingalls Wilder's wedding dress was black. I could quote from the books, but, well, I think I'm doing enough of that at my own blog. ;-)

  20. Beautiful dresses whether dark or white. I had heard even in the fifties a lot of wedding dresses were just a nice dress...not necessarily a white gown.

  21. According to my daughter, who is an aficionada of wedding garb, we can thank Queen Victoria for moving the fashion world away from the more level-headed color choices. But white or not, I think those dresses are beauties!

    It's a shame you didn't get grant money for the project. Why not post a link to your museum website? Does it include a "donate" button? Perhaps if all of your avid readers could help to kick in a small donation, it could add up to some seed money for your project. Besides that, there is a whole world of people following wedding gown fashions. Surely someone online would be willing to help...

    1. The Museum has a blog that I write for them weekly. It is located on my sidebar..under Hubbard County Historical Museum. No we don't have a donate button yet..we are still old school mail a donation in..but all that info is over on their blog:)

  22. Ooo - gorgeous dresses! Thanks for sharing...

  23. Absolutely beautiful and I always learn something from you. I never knew about the black wedding dresses.


Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comments! If you have a question I will try to answer it here. Connie