In honor of Women’s History Month, the Osceola County Historical Society opened a new temporary exhibit, Fashion Rewind. This exhibit showcases women’s clothing from OCHS’s textile collection featuring styles from the early 1900s to the 1940s.
Throughout the above mentioned years, there has been a part of women’s clothing with variation directly related to the economic situation in our country: the hemline. In determining the overall wealth and prosperity of the nation, a glimpse at the length of women’s dresses and skirts would be very useful. Prior to the 1920s, hemlines were generally the same; one length and long. With WWI breaking out, women were filling roles they hadn’t previously, money was tight, and the more reserved, longer hemline continued. The onset of the Roaring Twenties brought flare and decadence. Women wore shorter dresses with lots of movement. The economy came crashing down in the 1930s, and dress lengths would follow suit. Post-WWII was much like the 1920s where women had the freedom to change up their skirt lengths. Eventually, the trend would become the decidedly daring mini-skirt. Another conflict, the Vietnam War, brought those dress lengths down again. With the economy mostly leveling out, and the introduction of the feminist movement, hemlines of varying lengths became the norm, and have remained true into our modern times.
One of the women featured in the Fashion Rewind exhibit, and a great example of the elegant and reserved style of the early 1900s, is Minnie Moore Wilson. She is represented with two authentic day dresses from the early 1900s. These dresses are perfect examples of what an Edwardian woman living in Florida would have worn. The dresses are white and made from light material for keeping cool. Their styles are very conservative, allowing for little skin to show, and were generally floor length. Minnie Moore Wilson may have worn such dresses, or the other popular style, a modest two-piece women’s suit.
Minnie Moore Wilson is an important figure in Osceola County history, even though she is not a native Floridian. Minnie vacationed in Florida in the 1880s and fell in love with Osceola County. She and her husband became very active in preserving natural Florida, specifically in reference to the local Native Americans and the wildlife. Minnie’s work with the Audubon Society of Florida helped make Kissimmee one of the first Florida towns to become a bird sanctuary. She was also very involved with the Seminole Indians and was instrumental in the “Friends of the Florida Seminoles” organization. She would later find great success in writing about the Seminoles, specifically with her book, The Seminoles of Florida. Unfortunately, Minnie’s health began to suffer and she passed away in 1937. She has a lasting impact on Osceola County and is a perfect example of the women celebrated during Women’s History Month.
Commemorate Women’s History Month by visiting the Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum to check out the historical clothing and learn more about some of the prominent women of Osceola County history.