Have you given much thought to what accessories you consider essential to your look today? What would you have chosen in 1960, 1900, 1860?
While many think of clothing in terms of garments to cover the body, accessories are a considerable part of our wardrobes and help to define the way we present ourselves to the world. On Monday, May 1, 2017, the Evanston History Center (EHC) will open a new exhibit featuring fashion accessories, some practical and others highly decorative and whimsical, and exploring their uses over time. The items are drawn from EHC’s extensive costume collection which is rich in accessories used by Evanstonians throughout the history of the city. The exhibit is curated by EHC’s costume curator, Janet C. Messmer.
The exhibit explores how accessory items have evolved through time, both in style and use. Some, considered essential in the past, have either changed their forms or fallen into disuse, while others which were unknown to our ancestors are considered vital today. Few women currently carry a vinaigrette filled with smelling salts in their purses (in case they feel faint) or wear a silver chatelaine with an ivory notepad and silver mechanical pencil suspended from it, but their ancestors in the late 19th century well might have. And most people would have difficulty explaining to their ancestors why they must wear a Fitbit today.
Walking sticks, parasols, fans, chatelaines, gloves, hats, shoes, stockings, spurs, riding crops, garters, jewelry, posy holders, shoe trees, cigarette holders, match boxes, and many other items from the mid-19th through the 20th century will be on display. Additionally, the exhibit explores where Evanstonians have acquired their accessories by looking into businesses which created or sold them.
The exhibit runs through December 2017.