If you’re seeking an escape from the brutal Binghamton weather or need a break from cold, drunken nights, skip the crowded fraternity houses this Friday and visit the exhibition on Progressive fashion at the Phelps Mansion Museum.
The Phelps Mansion, located on Court Street in Downtown Binghamton, was built between 1870 and 1872 as the home of Sherman Phelps, a former mayor of Binghamton. The mansion now serves as a local museum featuring different exhibitions throughout the year.
Most recently, the museum is featuring an exhibition titled Progressive Fashion 1893-1921, curated by Binghamton University alumna Julia Adams, ‘06. Adams, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theatre, found her passion in historical and period fashion. For the exhibition, she helped restore numerous Progressive-era outfits ranging from ornate, beaded dresses to slim-fitting day gowns.
Though the Progressive era dates back to the late 1800s, Adams says that some remnants of the Progressive movement mirror and help to explain the political climate of today.
“During this period, Irish [people] and Italians were considered undesirable people and the government put out trade embargos to keep them out of America,” Adams said. “So not only is this a chance to see fantastic, authentic fashion of the period, but to see where we came from and how we share a lot in common with what’s happening in America now.”
The U.S. Progressive era, which took place from 1893 to 1921, highlights important changes through the diverse fashion styles that were commonly seen as scandalous before the rise of the movement. According to Adams, this included slimly fit skirts and dresses shorter than the usual ankle-length.
“My favorite piece from this collection has to be this very slim-cut purple-and-cream gown,” Adams said. “This style expressed comfort in the female form in its natural form, instead of heavy corseting.” Another favorite by Adams was a 1914 striped dress printed with a polka-dot pattern.
The exhibition will be open to the public starting this Friday and will remain open until May 13. The Phelps Mansion Museum is located at 191 Court St. Tours of the grounds will be available every 30 minutes. Tickets are $5 for students and can be bought online at phelpsmansion.org.