The Roaring ’20s | Clarke Museum exhibit focuses on fashion from a century ago – Times-Standard

A new exhibition at the Clarke Historical Museum in Eureka focuses on 1920s fashion, textiles and frills.

The exhibition, “Bobs and Beads”, explores the social, cultural and economic changes taking place in the 1920s through the lens of the fashion, clothing and accessories trends of the Clarke collection.

The floor-length dresses of the 1910s became shorter and looser in the 1920s to accommodate women on the go in ballrooms, for example. (Heather Shelton / The Times-Standard)

“The 1920s were a time of immense changes in all aspects of life. One of the most visual indicators of change in a society is clothing, and the 1920s are a great example of that, “said Katie Buesch, executive director / curator of the museum, located at 240 E St.

She added: “Fashion is a really interesting way to explore how human activities influence the creation, production and widespread use of certain items to accommodate cultural changes, such as increased freedom and free time for women. “.

The 1920s, especially for women’s fashion, were exciting, she said, because clothing changed so much during that time.

“The floor-length dresses of the 1910s got shorter and looser to accommodate women on the go in ballrooms and sports, we see shoes getting more decorated because now people could really see them.

“The fabrics were thin and fluid like voile, georgette (a type of silk) and a variety of natural and synthetic silks like rayon blended with cotton, which was becoming increasingly popular for undergarments and could be dyed with colors. lively. … Linen, knitted fabrics, wool and cotton were also popular, with knitting being seen mostly in clothes worn during sports, “said Buesch, who has been interested in fashion for a long time. 20.

“This exhibition gave me the opportunity to do more research on the factors that contributed to the iconic 1920s fashion,” she said. “I was really blown away by the beadwork and I think it really shows up in this exhibit as there are a lot of beaded dresses on display.”

Synthetic silks like rayon blended with cotton became popular for undergarments in the 1920s. (Heather Shelton / The Times-Standard)

Rising household incomes, as well as better access to cultural information from other parts of the world and a growing visual culture as movies and movie stars become fashion icons, were some of these factors. Fashion celebrities a century ago included Josephine Baker, Joan Crawford, Clara Bow, Greta Garbo, Gloria Swanson, and many more.

“Coco Chanel comes to mind,” Buesch said. “It helped transform the color black from being a color specifically worn during mourning to being a trendy color for evening wear and ultimately an acceptable color to wear during the day. Anna May Wong, who is called the first Asian American actress in Hollywood, was also an icon who was often seen wearing a silk cheongsam, a dress that came to the United States from Shanghai, China, and became incredibly popular in the 1920s. .

The fashions on display at the Clarke represent a small segment of the museum’s vast collection of fabrics.

“The museum’s collection of fabrics is remarkable, from quilts to flags, coats, wedding dresses, children’s clothing, hats and more,” said Buesch. “We have things as old as the civil war up to the 70s and 80s. Fortunately, the items are organized by type (dress, shirts, etc.) and by era, so finding items (for this exhibit) wasn’t too difficult and was quite fun. The items on display are a small part of the collection, so there were some pieces that didn’t make it due to the limited space.

Pictured is a 1920s swimsuit on display at the Clarke Museum. (Heather Shelton / The Times-Standard)

When it came to finding examples of women’s sportswear, Buesch said she was a little puzzled at first, but then realized the museum has sportswear that was once worn by Elta Cartwright, a local athlete who participated in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam.

“So, some of his sportswear appears in the show, including one of his Olympic uniforms,” ​​Buesch said.

Fashion accessories from the 1920s are also on display.

“We have hats, shoes, bags, an ostrich fan, jewelry and undergarments all on display,” Buesch said. “Hats include cloche hats, which are designed to cover the forehead and adhere firmly to the wearer’s head. They also encouraged the widespread adoption of the bob haircut, because women’s hair couldn’t fit under skin-tight hats.

The Clarke Historical Museum’s 1920s fashion exhibit also features period accessories. The director / curator of the Clarke Museum, Katie Buesch, is holding a shoe that is part of the exhibit. (Heather Shelton / The Times-Standard)

The 1920s fashion show at the Clarke Museum officially opens February 5th from 6pm to 9pm during Arts Alive! However, parts of the exhibit are now available for viewing and the entire exhibit is expected to be completed by the end of the week. The Clarke Historical Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11am to 4pm. Admission costs $ 5 per person or $ 10 for group admission. For more information, call 707-443-1947 or visit

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