Find out about Group Programs for this exhibit
Crinolines, corsets, busks, bustles, and brassieres. Throughout time, women of the western world have worn a variety of undergarments designed to push/pull and expand/shrink the human body into shapes deemed fashionable at the time. Fashion is always evolving, but why does such change happen? Many factors influence these changes—technology, advertising, societal pressures, economics, beliefs about modesty, even politics—all play a role. Add the shifting and often disputed concepts about femininity and women’s roles, and change becomes inevitable. While these “unmentionables” may appear insignificant, they are powerful artifacts that chronicle the evolution of women’s progress in an ever-changing society. Underneath It All showcases the fashionable silhouettes of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries through dressed mannequins and accompanying “undressed” mannequins clad in undergarments needed to create the desired silhouette. The featured textiles and related artifacts explore fashion’s fascinating evolution and the revolutionary changes that made these various silhouettes both possible and popular.