What’s REALLY under that dress?

When we visit a museum’s costume gallery, do we ever stop and ask what is REALLY under that dress? Take a look at just how much work goes on behind the scenes preparing a period garment for display.
(From the blog of Clarissa Esguerra, Curatorial Assistant, Costume and Textiles- LACMA)

Step 1: Selection of a mannequin
“Before the initial “fitting,” a series of measurements were taken from the garment to determine the positioning of the torso, hips, and legs of the mannequin.”

Step 2: Physical Manipulation of the Mannequin
“The dresser then cuts out concentric shapes of batting to slowly build out the mannequin to the shape of the garment. Control-top pantyhose were placed on both the torso and lower portion of the mannequin to hold the pieces of batting in place while providing a smooth safe surface for the object to rest upon. If necessary, prop undergarments were made to complete the silhouette. This part of prepping the mannequin can take several days. “
Step 3: Dressing the Mannequin


Step 4: On Display


“Period accessories and a paper wig finish the look of a mannequin, now ready for display. 
Dress, France, c. 1855, with Collar, Europe, 1845–50, and Pair of Undersleeves, Europe or United States, c. 1855″  
(Photos courtesy Clarissa Esguerra. To see more photos or read her comments, click here.)
Thank you Clarissa for sharing with us this behind the scenes look! And, thanks to you and your staff for all your hard work!

About Susan

Hi! My name is Susan and I am a historian, seamstress, teacher, mother, and wife. My passion for history has manifested itself in the art of recreating clothing from different periods of time. Growing up in the American South, I am heavily schooled in the art of recreating clothing from the 19th century. After nearly a decade of immersing myself primarily in the Victorian period, I found the need to branch out and explore other periods of time. However, it is my connection with the American South and the clothing of rural America that continues to be the driving force behind my designs.