Seperate Sphere: Dressmakers in Cincinatti's Golen Age, 1877-1922

Seperate Sphere: Dressmakers in Cincinatti's Golen Age, 1877-1922

by Cynthia Amneus
     
 

Dressmaking, considered a natural extension of women's proper work in the home, was a common and lucrative employment for women in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It afforded creative expression, prestige in the community, and even the possibility of financial independence. Yet as entrepreneurs, dressmakers faced unique business pressures, and with the… See more details below

Overview

Dressmaking, considered a natural extension of women's proper work in the home, was a common and lucrative employment for women in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It afforded creative expression, prestige in the community, and even the possibility of financial independence. Yet as entrepreneurs, dressmakers faced unique business pressures, and with the advent of department stores and widespread mass production of women's clothing, most were forced out of business.

Coinciding with the exhibition Cynthia Amneus organized for the Cincinnati Art Museum, this work examines the nineteenth-century ideology of women's separate sphere, the early feminist movement, women in the workplace, and dressmakers as artisans and professionals. More than 140 stunning custom-made garments, historical photographs, and dressmakers' labels document the superb artistic and technical skill of the women who produced fashionable dress in Cincinnati from 1877 to 1922.

Bracketing Amneus's incisive study are essays by Anne Bissonnette on the eccentric tea gown, Marla Miller on the pitfalls of researching women's artisanal work, and Shirley Teresa Wajda on the dressmakers' wealthy clientele. In all, A Separate Sphere offers a careful look into the lives of women struggling with ideological boundaries. Chronicling choices made by and imposed on both working-class women and their affluent counterparts, it reveals how these women managed to enhance their prescribed sphere for themselves and for the community at large.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780896725072
Publisher:
Texas Tech University Press
Publication date:
09/28/2003
Series:
Costume Society of America Ser.
Pages:
216
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgments
Dressmaking as a Trade for Women: Recovering a Lost Art(isanry)1
Dressmakers in Cincinnati's Golden Age, 1877-1922: An Introduction7
1The Ideology of the Separate Sphere10
2Women in the Workplace31
3Dressmaking as a Trade43
4Cincinnati: A Historical Perspective68
5Cincinnati's Dressmakers78
6Ready-Made Garments and the Rise of the Department Store137
Conclusion167
The 1870s Transformation of the Robe de Chambre169
"A Kind of Missionary Work": The Labor and Legacy of Cincinnati's Society Women, 1877-1922175
AppDressmakers' Labels189
Notes195
Bibliography205
Index212

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