Museum exhibit shows evolution of women’s fashion.
Modern mannequins, trim as they may be, are too big to wear the clothes of 18th- and 19th-century women, whose waists were pinched to 14 inches by corsets, said Vaughne Hansen, Pike County Historical Society board member.
Women’s freedom from those stays, like other freedoms, developed slowly.
Evidence of that evolution is organized in boxes and albums and hanging on the occasional mannequin on the third floor of the Columns Museum.
Recently, Hansen provided a tour of the third floor, which she said was once occupied by children, servants and unwanted guests. It’s now managed by Roxanne Scott, a volunteer and member of the museum’s board of directors.
Versatility was a valued quality in earlier dresses, Hansen said, pointing out a mannequin clothed in an 1880s dress, with an elaborate lacy bodice for dinner or visiting. A plain bodice draped on a nearby chair could be substituted for walking or shopping.
“One yard more fabric, two dresses,” said Hansen. “That midcentury bustle era was interesting for women, with the suffrage and temperance movement.”