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Conclusion - 100 Years Apart

Photograph of Wedding Dresses of Mary Lee Hartzell and Margaret A. Heminway

In case you didn't notice, two of the dresses in this exhibition were worn exactly 100 years apart: the 1854 dress of Margaret A. Heminway, and the 1954 dress of MaryLee Hartzell, Vassar class of 1953. The photograph on the left shows MaryLee's dress in the foreground, with Margaret's dress in the background. The silhouettes of these two dresses are remarkable similar, especially when you consider the silhouettes of the other dresses that were worn in between. It is interesting to consider the aspects of 1950's culture that were hearkening back to an earlier period.

The most recent dress in the exhibition, worn by MaryLee's granddaughter, Anna Langdell (Vassar class of 2006), is the most similar in silhouette to these other two dresses. Again, many different styles have been worn between MaryLee's 1954 wedding and Anna's 2012 wedding, as shown by the minidress of MaryLee's sister, Ellen Baumann (Vassar class of 1963) and the Mexican wedding dress worn by her daugher Leontine Hartzell (Vassar class of 1979). However, the fitted bodice and full skirt seem to keep cycling back through fashion. The reappearance of certain styles may occur because of other aspects of the culture of a previous period, or in spite of them. These dresses, and this exhibition as a whole, provide a wonderful example of how fashion may shift away from a particular style, but often will cycle back to a similar look again. 

Photograph of Wedding Dresses of Anna Langdell, Leontine Hartzell, Mary Lee Hartzell, Leontine McPhillips, and Margaret A. Heminway