By Judy Wakefield
---- — A Main Street boutique of yesteryear is set to open today at the Andover Historical Society with the unveiling of “Behind the Seams, Stories of Clothing, 1790 to 1920.”
The exhibit draws on the society’s extensive costume and textile collection to tell tales from Andover’s past through the scope of changing fashions and fabrics over the course of 130 years.
Visitors to the Amos Blanchard House on Main Street will discover 25 mannequins displayed in vignettes showcasing a variety of costumes, accessories, quilts and samplers.
Carrie Midura of the society said the exhibit speaks of a time when fabric was a valuable resource, expensive to buy and used and reused wisely. It illustrates Victorian invention, both the sensible and the ridiculous, as well as the rigid social rules of Edwardian times and later the new economic and social freedom enjoyed by women after World War I, she said.
Society board member and exhibit curator Angela McBrien of Andover reports that while advances in textile production were well under way in Europe by 1790, things were just beginning in New England.
“And, as for having a hemline at the knee! In Edwardian times, there was only a certain kind of woman who showed her legs in public,” the exhibit notes say. “But the advent of World War I and the entry of so many women into the workforce forced fashion to adapt and become much less restrictive. Corsetry was eased and hemlines rose.”
The exhibit has been funded in part by a 2013 Partnership Grant from Essex National Heritage Commission.
An opening reception takes place today from 3 to 5 p.m. at the society, 97 Main St. The show runs through April 2014. Regular exhibit hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Exhibit tours are free and self-guided. Call 978-475-2236 or visit www.andoverhistorical.org.