Accessories and their purposes, both decorative and useful, are explored in the Columbus Museum's exhibit "Parasols, Purses, and Petticoats: Costume Accessories from the Permanent Collection." The exhibit, which opens Feb. 10 and is on view through June 2, features fans, parasols, purses, jewelry, bonnets, capes, shoes, shawls and foundation garments. Some sample items will be available for guests to try on.
Kristen Miller Zohn, curator of collections and exhibitions, gave us a sneak peek at some of the accessories that will be on display.
Capes, shawls and coats: All can be used to provide warmth, protect clothes and add style.
Gloves: Worn more for style than warmth, "everyone with a pretense to fashion wore gloves in the Victorian era," Kristen said. Long, above-the-elbow, gloves were stylish then but in the early 19th century, shorter, day gloves became popular.
Shoes: While floor-length gowns required less elaborate shoes, rising hemlines called for decorative shoes. The mules featured in the exhibit are likely from the 18th century as no right or left foot is designated. Mules, backless shoes, were worn with ankle length dresses. In the 19th century, shoes became more plain. Embroidery on shoes returned in the 1920s.
Jewelry: A woman's social standing and wealth were often on display in her jewelry. "The higher up in society, the more jewels," Kristen said.
Head coverings: Many women kept their heads covered outside their homes until after World War II. Until the end of the 19th century, caps were often worn indoors by married women and girls.
Purses: Before the 20th century, women didn't typically carry a lot in their purses. Small, decorative bags held little more than money. These purses were made of lighter fabrics than they are today.
Undergarments: In the 18th and 19th centuries, undergarments helped shape a woman's body and they were designed to protect a woman's clothes from sweat. "You didn't have to wash your expensive clothes very often," Kristen explains.
Parasols & umbrellas: Lighter, daintier and more fashionable than umbrellas, parasols were used to shield women from the sun's bright rays. Umbrellas were used by both genders on rainy days, just like today, although the material used was different.
Accessories Boutique Shopping: Shop for one-of-a kind accessories from vendors assembled by Suzy Edge, Couture Collection, with a percentage of the proceeds benefiting the museum, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, March 1, at the museum. Expect to see pieces from the following artists and vendors:
A Beintot and Mariquita Masterson of Houston
Nicholas Kniel Millinery, Anne Vincent Textiles, Jennifer Lyon, Christina Butler, and Weatherby Miller Crown Jewels of Atlanta
Ashneil Handbags of North Carolina
Linda Richards Furs of New York
Lunch & Lecture From noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 7, Kristen Miller Zohn, curator of collections and exhibitions, will host the museum's monthly Lunch & Lecture session. In her discussion, "The Practical and the Alluring: A Look into the Parasols, Purses, & Petticoats Exhibition," she'll explain how accessories have been used for practical purposes, as indications of social standing and as aids in the art of seduction. Bring a lunch or purchase an $8 lunch, by calling 706-748-2562, ext. 651 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by Feb. 4.
Fans and flirting
Touching right cheek: Yes
Touching left cheek: No
Twirling in left hand: We are watched
Twirling in right hand: I love another
Fanning slowly: I am married
Fanning quickly: I am engaged
THE COLUMBUS MUSEUM
Address: 1251 Wynnton Road, Columbus, GA
Hours: Monday, closed; Tuesday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Wednesday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Information: 706-748-2562 and columbusmuseum.com