Ajax loader

Background This suit combines the uniformity of a tailor-made suit with the feminine formality frequently associated with 19th-century visiting ensembles. Its bird’s-eye patterned silk and soft tailoring departs from the more durable linens and wools that typically define such garments. Although nodding to the increased awareness on the part of high-end clientele of a fashion trend toward garments of more practical design, the sumptuous padded frog closures, silk fringe, and contrasting deep-shawl silk collar remain consistent with the Worth tradition of high aesthetic standards and couture workmanship. Description Jacket: Semi-fitted, hip-length, cutaway front; faille shawl collar, ribbon edging; long sleeves; faille turned-back cuffs, ribbon edging; center front interlaced frog closure. Skirt: Floor-length, full; three fringed self flounces curving from center front to back; left side, slot seam closure. Garment structure The jacket’s off-center placket is held in place by concealed hooks and eyes beneath the overlap, fastening with an oversized, self-covered button and interlaced frog-closure. The button is trimmed with braid. The satin edging on the collar is pleated on the underside in order to conform to the curved edge. The full-length skirt is trimmed with silk fringe with three flat flounces applied in a curved pattern, their apex at center front. It fastens at the left hip with hooks and eyes concealed by a slot seam. Worn by Lucy T. Aldrich. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Laurance S. Rockefeller, 1956.

Black silk jacquard in bird's-eye pattern; black silk fringe; cream faille; black satin ribbon; black silk cord
Label: Worth

Background Worth’s early 20th-century client sought less feminine, more streamlined daytime clothing that could address the needs of her increasingly active lifestyle. In response, the house incorporated textiles more traditionally associated with men’s attire into its vocabulary, cutting stylish suits of increasingly diminished volume. Such attire was ideal for use in a professional context and for travel as it required a minimum of maintenance and could be accessorized to alter its appearance. A modicum of Worth’s signature embellishment here remains, with the interjection of decorative silk braid used to offset the austerity of the suit’s silhouette. Description Jacket: Tubular, below-hip length, slightly flared from waist to hem; wide flat serge collar with pointed ends, pique turnover collar; long sleeves, gathered at shoulder and below elbow, semi-fitted from elbow to cuff; applied ribbon below elbow; angled center front closure; angled center back seam; applied braid at collar, sleeves, center front, and center back; black patent leather belt, round tortoise shell buckle at center front and center back. Skirt: Tubular, ankle-length underskirt, off-center mock wrap closure; slightly flared knee-length overskirt, applied braid, off-center mock button closure below-hip to hem. Garment structure This suit is beautifully proportioned, with its belted jacket and front-opening, double-tiered skirt. The skirt upper tier is embellished with soutache and the underskirt is unadorned. To reduce bulk at the waist, the concealed part of the underskirt is made of lightweight silk. As both skirts are unlined the method of soutache-application is apparent. The ends of small running stitches are hidden under the braid trim on the wrong side of the upper skirt. Made for opera singer Mme. Emma Eames. Gift of Miss Matilda Frelinghuysen, 1953.

Navy blue silk serge; applied black silk braid in spiral and foliate patterns; cream silk pique; black patent leather; tortoise shell; black satin ribbon
Length: 28”
Hem circumference: 49 ½”
Top skirt:
Hem circumference: 58 ¾”
Length: 27”
Lower skirt:
Hem circumference: 41 ¾”
Length: 50”
YWCA Overseas Uniform

Background Prior to the United States’ entry into World War I, the pages of "Vogue" bear witness to the increased popularity of volunteering for overseas service amongst society women. Lacking uniforms made through standardized production, many women joining the war effort in Europe turned uniform spec sheets over to their dressmakers for personalized interpretation. One result is this elegant YWCA uniform, constructed of rugged wool covert and comprising knee-length cape, tailored jacket, and walking-length skirt–complete with its Worth/Paris silk petersham. Description Dress: Semi-fitted, mid-calf length; surplice bodice, double breasted with nonfunctional buttonholes, bretelles from shoulders to below waist at back; wide, flat bengaline collar; long sleeves, bengaline cuffs, self-covered buttons; flat-front skirt with self-covered buttons either side of center front; graduated vertical tucks at left and right sides from waist to hip, crow’s foot tailor’s tacks at ends; box pleats either side of center back; concealed skirt pocket left of center front; half self-belt at back; hook-and-eye closure on bodice, snap closure on skirt; cream silk slip top. Jacket: Unfitted, hip-length; attached knee-length cape, open at center front; wide, flat bengaline collar with curved ends; long sleeves; right bosom pocket; bellows patch pockets either side of center front hip, single-button flaps; belt loops (belt missing); satin lining. Garment structure The unlined dress bodice is joined with a separate silk chemise stitched in at the waist. The chemise fastens down the front with hooks and eyes, is lace-trimmed at neck edge, and has a small patch pocket on the inside between the left shoulder and bust. The skirt pleats are stitched down several inches below the waist, a crow’s-foot (triangle) embroidered to secure their ends. The skirt fastens with snaps, its placket finished with a simple silk ribbon binding and its hem finished at the edge with seam-binding, secured by hand with a row of small running stitches. The caped jacket fastens center-front with four irregularly spaced composition buttons and bound buttonholes, joining a circular-cut cape with a completely lined hand-sewn jacket. The jacket has hip patch pockets and a small welt pocket above the right bust. The patch pockets have box pleats at the center and a flap that buttons in place for security. The cape is unlined with bound inner seams. Worn by Margaret Merle-Smith. Gift of Ms. Cora Ginsburg, 1980.

Blue-grey covert cloth; blue-grey silk bengaline; blue-grey satin, cream silk
Label: Worth/Paris; 73016
Length: 50 ¾”
Hem circumference: 92”
Length: 28 ¾”
Hem circumference: 50 1/8”
Center front length: 37 7/8”
Center back length: 39 ¼”
Hem circumference: 134 ¼”

Background The 1920s witnessed a new era of freedoms for women in Europe and America. In New York, women could expect greater ease in employment opportunities, a greater voice in their government through the right to vote, and greater freedom of movement in their garments. Having discarded the heavy textiles, boning, linings, and copious trims that had been the house signature, Worth’s new designs for evening were less structured and less formal than they had ever been. They now showcased unusual, lightweight printed textiles and subtle new finishing techniques. Description Tubular; below-knee length; dropped waist; V neck with bugle bead trim, pink georgette modesty panel; sleeveless; triple-tiered skirt, applied beads at edges of hip- and knee-length tiers and at hem; pink georgette and black georgette mock hip sash with knot and separate calf-length streamers at left side; scattered brilliants overall; pink underslip. Garment structure The skirt layers of this triple-tiered tubular dress are applied to a plain-weave silk base so as appear to be the same width. The tiers are graduated in size and sewn to the silk base so that the upper two tiers overlap the one immediately below it, allowing the wearer to move without exposing the base layer. The dress has a pink underslip and a 9” unstitched lap at the back instead of a seam, to facilitate ease of movement. Worn by the donor. Gift of Mrs. Paul Pennoyer, 1971.

China silk printed with stylized pink flowers and leaves on black ground; pink georgette; black georgette; clear brilliants; black bugle beads; pink china silk
Label: Worth
Evening cape

Background The opulent commissions undertaken on by the house during the 1920s differed little from those originally produced by Worth & Bobergh for its royal and upwardly-mobile original clientele. Working in ermine, the fur once limited in use by sumptuary laws to only those of royal station, the designer explores the medium to virtuosic effect. The composition exploits the narrowness of its white pelts, which function as a series of sculptural diagonals, employing their black-dotted tails decoratively. Description Knee-length falling in points to mid-calf length; hangs straight from shoulders; large foldover collar; graded hem; diagonal rows of ermine tails applied all around, hip to hem; pink velvet lining. Garment structure The cape falls from its defined shoulders in contained folds, closely conforming to the body’s contours by virtue of its own weight. An oversized rolling collar hugs the chin in the front and mounts the neck in the back to roll at nape level. The slightly off-center single ermine-covered button closure holds the collar in place. The cape is entirely lined with petal-pink chiffon-backed silk velvet. Vertical fold-contained seam pockets rest on either side of the front placket. Worn by Mrs. Joseph Pulitzer, Sr. Gift of Mrs. William S. Moore, 1957.

Ermine skins joined diagonally; ermine tails; pink chiffon velvet
Label: Worth / Paris
Evening coat

Background The 15th-century Italian-inspired grand-scale foliate of this voided-velvet coat harkens back to Maison Worth’s founder’s passion for oversized motifs in sumptuous fabrics. The evening coat’s silhouette conforms to typical 1920s format. But, consistent with house tradition, what appears only as a luxurious ermine collar and cuffs is in truth a complete ermine lining. Description Unfitted, seamless back; mid-calf length; rolled ermine collar; shoulders ease into tapered, modified raglan sleeves, deep barrel-shaped ermine cuffs, cream satin backing; ermine loop-and-button closure; ermine lining. Garment structure Fabricated of voided silk velvet and winter ermine, the coat’s fur lining spills out from within to turn and form its mounding, diagonally-seamed rolled collar and broad cuffs. The unfitted body of the coat falls softly from the shoulders. The modified raglan sleeves are piped where they join the coat. The coat lining rises at neck level to form the contrasting tubular collar, its excessive length covering the chin in rolls of ermine. The mid-calf length nods to the new, less formal guidelines for evening wear. The coat fastens on the right front with a button-loop and ermine covered button. Purchased for donor by her father, Mr. J. P. Morgan, Sr., at Worth/Paris. Gift of Mrs. Paul Pennoyer, 1982.

Cherry red voided velvet in 15th-century, Italian-inspired intertwining foliate motif; ermine; cream satin
Evening dress

Background A shimmering column of featherweight satin, this evening chemise is characterized by its regal sophistication, retaining the elitist flavor of Worth’s earlier works. Its design reflects an overall change in the house’s client base demographic and its new efforts to design for the aging bodies of former Gilded Age beauties. Despite the entry of a new roster of couture innovators, these women remained sentimentally loyal to the firm they had always known. Description Chemise; below-knee length; dropped waist; scoop neck; sleeveless; applied brilliants and beads forming serpentine motif around hip; outer skirt densely embroidered overall in patterned brilliants hip to hem, open center front; inner skirt, applied lace at center front; piping at neck and armholes; left side hook-and-eye closure. Garment structure This simple drop-waist dress is devoid of any body-shaping inner structure. Sleeveless, with a scooped neck, the silhouette becomes a backdrop for the stylized Art Deco geometric motifs applied from hip to hem. The edges of the neck and armholes are hand-finished with a narrow binding. The dress has a matching slip. Belonged to Mrs. Beekman Winthrop. Gift of Mr. Robert Winthrop, 1986.

Ivory satin; silver metallic machine-made lace; mine-cut brilliants, graduating in color from pale gray to deep slate applied in circular geometric motifs; white brilliants; silver-tone glass beads
Label: Worth
Center front length: 37”
Center back length: 36”
Hem circumference: 53”