Uniquely Columbia: Stephens College Costume Museum and Research Library

Some people just get up and get dressed, but then there are those who live fashion.

Since 1958, Stephens College in Columbia has been collecting stunning pieces of clothing and accessories. Donations from alumnae, friends and designers have resulted in the collection growing to over 13,000 pieces. The pieces within the collection date back to the 1730s and  range from everyday wear from many decades, representations of ethnic wear and priceless pieces from designers. These archival pieces allow students to study textiles, construction and design dating back to the very beginnings of America and from around the world.

While most of the collection is housed in Stephens’ archival space, rotating exhibits allow visitors to enjoy thoughtfully curated experiences based on a designer, a time period or an emotion.

The current collection, titled Emergence, will let visitors experience the emergence of spring through one imaginary socialite’s closet as it evolved from 1947 to 1990. At the beginning of the exhibit, the collection will consist of winter wear: White, silver, taupe suits and heavy garments. Like any woman of the time, our muse will swap out her winter pieces to make room for a spring wardrobe, consisting of lighter fabrics in pinks, greens and yellows. The second phase of the exhibit will emerge over spring break during the last week of March.

To visit this beautiful exhibit, head to the Historic Costume Gallery in Lela Raney Wood Hall on the Stephens College campus. The exhibit is open Thursdays from 5:30-8:30 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 12:00-3:00 p.m. Take a step back in time to see where the fashion we wear today originated and perhaps get a sneak peek into what’s next.

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