College Students: What were they Wearing?

Have you ever wondered what you would have worn to an Ohio State football game in 1926? Let’s just say it wasn’t crop tops and leggings. The Historic Clothing and Textiles Collection is currently showcasing college fashion throughout the past 150 years that encompasses a variety of style and culture. From 1870 to World War II and beyond, visit our collection to view and learn about the different outfits worn by college students.

Let’s start with women’s fashion. When walking on campus in the late 1800’s to 
early 1900’s, you may have noticed a large number of bustles. This was the prime period when bustles were implemented into women’s everyday fashion. In the 1870’s, women’s dresses, which consisted of a skirt and bodice, were long and had a train to follow. As years went on, however, the dresses became less in  length to a few inches above the ground, and the train had just about disappeared.  However, as the dresses got shorter, the bustles only got bigger, putting more emphasis on the rear. They were usually adorned with bows and shaped with drapery.

 

 

Several dresses ranging from 1929-1940 are displayed as well. Women’s fashion definitely changed greatly from the turn of the the century to the 1920’s. Dresses were still below the knee, yet considerably long in today’s sense. They had a drop waist and loose fit, and you would often see Mary Jane’s or T-Strap heels  to finish the look.

If you went to a football game, you most likely would’ve cheered on the team in a raccoon fur coat, a cloche hat, and your favorite pair of fur-trimmed boots if you were a woman. For men, your university’s letter sweater and wool knickers would have been the go-to look.

The lower gallery showcases white dresses worn at either graduations or initiations. The first was a gift of Vera Lee Conley Cox from when she graduated from Antioch College. The second, was worn by a former OSU student, Ruth E. Moore. The off-white silk crepe two-piece was worn for both her high school graduation in 1922 and when she pledged Delta Sigma Theta sorority as well. Moore went on to receive not only her bachelors degree from Ohio State, but her masters and PhD in addition

Home Economics cooking class in Campbell Hall, 1953   

 The third dress is an off-white silk crepe dress with lace trim and a faux jacket front, which was worn by another OSU student, Margaret Jacob Dombey (class of 1927). Margaret was considered a rather beautiful woman and was crowned OSU May Queen in 1927 and Rosebud in 1924. She wore this dress for her initiation into Kappa Kappa Gamma and possibly her graduation. The fourth and last dress was of Anne Clark who graduated in 1955 from Ohio State. Her white pique dress was worn for her initiation into the Mortar Board Society.

Nurses weren’t the only ones to sport the white dress look. Female students in classes like home economics as pictured above to the right, also had to wear a uniform (white lab  dress) to class.

Our gallery is also displaying an array of International Student clothing, as well as outfits crafted by Ohio State Alumni themselves when they were students as Ohio State.  To the left  is  striped  maxi  dress  made  and  worn  by  Mary  Lou  Swisshelm  Star,  a student who  received  her undergraduate degree from Ohio State in 1970.

To learn and discover even more unique college styles throughout the decades, make sure to visit our exhibit. For times and location be sure to check out the rest of the website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOURCES:

https://www.fcs.uga.edu/tmi/historic-clothing-and-textile-collection-the-collection-1870-1900

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