This rust-colored party dress is made of silk and has a gold-colored lace overlay. It has an attached tulle underskirt and the upper bodice and sleeves are unlined. This dress has a scoop neckline and features a metal Talon zipper down the back of the dress. There are three bows down the back of the dress next to the zipper. Features that are indicative of the 1950s are the New Look silhouette, the cinched waist, and the scoop neckline. This dress was purchased at Joseph P. Doody Inc. in Grand Rapids, Michigan and was worn by Doris Cole to dances at Radcliffe College between 1955-1959. It was photographed with petticoat number 155226.
This dress is part of a collection of 18 party and evening dresses purchased at department stores and dress shops in downtown Grand Rapids between 1952 and 1955. They were worn by sisters Doris and Janie Cole to parties, dances, and various social events.
This style of dress was known as the New Look which was created by Christian Dior in 1947. The New Look featured cinched waists, full skirts, and emphasized the bust and hips. Dior often lined his skirts with taffeta or percale to help it retain its full shape. This style of dress remained popular throughout the 1950’s and was a turning point in women’s fashion. During World War II fabrics were rationed and women’s style allowed for very few embellishments. Restrictions were put on the number of seams allowed in a garment, the number of buttons that could be used, and how many pleats were allowed. Women had to provide coupons when buying fabric and ready-to-wear clothing had to meet government standards. When the New Look was introduced after the war, women were lining up to purchase the style which promoted femininity and curves.
circa 1955 – 1959
Silk, Lace, Tulle
48" h 44" w
Current Location Status:
Gift Of Janice E. Cole, Doris A. Cole Louis and Helen Cole
All Dressed Up, 1950s Style
Doris ColeDoris Cole was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1938 to Louis and Helen Cole. She had a sister, Janice Cole, who was born in 1936.
Doris was raised in Grand Rapids and graduated from East Grand Rapids High School in 1955. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Radcliffe College in 1959 and went on to earn her Master’s in Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1963. Doris began her career in Paris and Boston but in 1981 she became a founding member of Cole and Goyette in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She stayed with the business until 2012 when she opened her own practice, Doris Cole FAIA. She is also an established author, writing five books about architecture including the first book in the United States about women in architecture. Talon International, IncorporatedTalon International, Inc., sometimes referred to as Talon Zipper was founded in Chicago in 1893 as the Universal Fastener Company. The company moved to Meadville, Pennsylvania and thrived in the zipper business, due to being the first zipper manufacturing company. In 1968 the company was acquired by Textron and faced many difficulties. The Japanese company YKK was also producing quality zippers but for less money which caused the company's market share to fall to 35% by 1981. In 1981, the company was sold to Nucor Holdings. Production was moved to Mexico but the company still suffered. In 1996 the Universal Fastener Company was acquired by Tag-It-Pacific. Production moved to Asia and in 2007 the company name was changed to Talon International, Incorporated. Joseph P. Doody IncorporatedJoseph P. Doody Incorporated was founded around 1955 by Joseph P. Doody. It was located at 146 Fulton Street in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1969, the name changed to Doody's Inc. and in 1971 it was moved to Breton Village. The business morphed into Leigh's around 1980.