The museum holds an extensive collection of articles of clothing, hats, shoes, and accessories. Clothing can be used to infer the social status of the owner, the cultural values of the time, and how the owner wished to be perceived. While most clothing serves a practical need, it can also be used to convey certain values and ideas. Think about the Suffragists wearing white, or the first time a woman dared to wear trousers in public.
Looking at historic clothing can also show the time and effort it took to make. Before the rise of ready-to-wear, mass produced clothing, women would make their own clothes and those of their families. The time spent sewing clothing or weaving the cloth was substantial. Wealthier women were able to pay a tailor or domestic servant to fashion their clothing, freeing their time for entertaining and traveling. Shops sold fabric and trimmings, allowing women to design their own clothes and hats based on the popular fashions of the time. Think about how you buy your clothing and shoes today. Do you shop online? At a department Store? Can you easily customize your clothes?
The many entries in Lamey’s Auburn Directory for 1900 involving clothing show how important fashion was even then. The directory lists 34 tailors, 14 milliners, 41 dressmakers, 14 shoe dealers, and 14 custom shoe makers.