1916-17 Suffragette Dress

Suffragette Dress

Our first commission of the year was this Suffragette dress headed to a museum in Wheaton, IL for an interpretive display. Based on period photographs and research on the Suffragette movement during WWI era America, I designed this gown as a representation of what a typical Suffragette might have worn from 1916-1917.

Early in the movement, women who supported the right to vote arrived en mass in walking attire- usually consisting of a shirtwaist, skirt, and jacket. However, as the movement gained momentum (and became more organized), Suffragettes adopted all white garments as an outward sign of solidarity. For the Suffragettes, white represented femininity. It also served as a brilliant contrast the the normally black and grey world captured by newspaper photographers.


American Suffragettes decided against an “official uniform” as they felt it would discourage women of various classes to join the cause. Thus, fashionable white dresses, shirtwaists, skirts, jackets, and hats all made their appearance within the movement.

In addition to wearing all white garments, American Suffragettes also wore a universal sash with stripes of three colors. They were purple for loyalty; gold referenced Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton; and white represented purity and virtue. (In Britain, the gold was replaced by green to signify hope).

Suffragette dress

Our American Suffragette Dress is made of 100% cotton voile with machine stitched embroidery. The bodice is unlined and is attached to the double tiered skirt via a narrow waistband. The cummerbund belt is attached to the gown at the center back and is hand stitched in place at the sides. The wide bertha collar detaches on one side. The gown closes at center back with a combination of buttons and hook and eye closures.

In addition to our American Suffragette dress, we also made a Suffragette jacket, combinations, petticoat, and corset.

You can order your very own Suffragette garments in either standard sizing or custom sizing from our catalog.

For more information about our custom designed garments, please email us at info@maggiemayfashions.com

About Susan

My interest in historical costume began at a very early age. I knew by age 5 I wanted to be a designer. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to turn my passion into a full time business. You can find my costumes onstage in NYC, on the big screen, and in museums around the globe.