This evening dress has a cream-colored bodice made of silk. It is strapless, boned, and has a sweetheart neckline. There is a Talon zipper down the center back and an interior label that lists the order number, style, and remarks. The skirt is made of light green net and has horizontal strips of silk throughout. There are multiple layers of tulle to help add volume to the skirt. Features that are indicative of the 1950s are the New Look silhouette, the cinched waist, and the sweetheart neckline. This dress was purchased at the Grand Rapids Dress Shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was worn by Doris Cole in 1952 to a private dance at the Kent Country Club. It was photographed with petticoat 130761.
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.
Tulle, Ribbon, Silk
48" h 63" 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.