Clothing & Accessories
Work, play, fashion, economic class, religious faith, even politics—all these aspects of American life and more are woven into clothing. The Museum cares for one of the nation's foremost collections of men's, women's, and children's garments and accessories—from wedding gowns and military uniforms to Halloween costumes and bathing suits.
The collections include work uniforms, academic gowns, clothing of presidents and first ladies, T-shirts bearing protest slogans, and a clean-room "bunny suit" from a manufacturer of computer microchips. Beyond garments, the collections encompass jewelry, handbags, hair dryers, dress forms, hatboxes, suitcases, salesmen's samples, and thousands of fashion prints, photographs, and original illustrations. The more than 30,000 artifacts here represent the changing appearance of Americans from the 1700s to the present day.
"Clothing & Accessories - Overview" showing 1 items.
- In 1928, the E. I. DuPont de Nemours Co. hired Wallace Carothers Ph. to conduct pure research in any area of chemistry he chose. His interest was in the construction of long chain polymers, similar to those found in nature. There was no product in mind when he and his team began their work, they simply wanted to learn as much about large molecules as possible. The work done by Carothers and his team lead to the discovery of polyesters and polyamides. DuPont went with the polyamides, and nylon was born. It was the first fiber produced entirely in the laboratory, and was introduced to the public in the form of women's stockings at the 1939 World's Fair. Nylon stockings went on sale May 15, 1940, and were a smashing success. Prior to the production of nylon stockings, American women wore stockings made of silk or rayon. By 1942, nylon stockings were taking twenty percent of the stocking market. With U.S. entry into World War Two, nylon was declared a defense material and withdrawn from the civilian market. Nylon's most famous use during the war was as a replacement for silk in parachutes. However, it was also used in ropes, netting, tire cord, and dozens of other items. So many uses were found for nylon that some referred to it as the "fiber that won the war." When the war ended, nylon stockings were brought back and quickly replaced silk and rayon in the stocking market.
- This is the first pair of experimental nylon stockings made by Union Hosiery Company for Du Pont in 1937. The leg of the stocking is nylon, the upper welt, toe, and heel are silk, and cotton is found in the seam. The nylon section of the stocking would not take the silk dye, and dyed to black instead of brown.
- Date made
- ca 1937
- Union Hosiery Co.
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center