Blacksburg Museum and Cultural Foundation is hosting an exhibit titled “The Twenties: Virginian Women’s Fashion After the Great War” at the Alexander Black House main galleries. The exhibit opened in March and continues through April 26.

Flappers, bathtub gin and the Charleston: Women of the “Roaring 20s” were removing their corsets, raising their hemlines, bobbing their hair and fighting for their freedoms and the right to vote. The arrival of the Jazz Age in America, the rise of filmmaking and Hollywood’s growing influence, along with an increase in fashion marketing, were re-shaping women’s roles and styles.

The social impact of the aftermath of the first world war included reducing the confines of the class system abroad and in the U.S., while a general feeling of novelty associated with modernity and a break with tradition swept across the country. Cultural shifts were brought about by technology such as the mass-produced automobile, moving pictures and cheap radio sets. These adjustments in popular taste were reflected in visual arts, music, literature, dance and fashion. Women began wearing chemise dresses that hung loosely from shoulder to knees. Costume jewelry became popular, along with sportswear designs, silk stockings, velvet and furs, and an increased use of makeup.

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The foundation teamed up with the Oris Glisson Historic Costume and Textile Collection at Virginia Tech to bring the exhibit to the historic Alexander Black House.

“Not only will holding an exhibition off-campus make a selection of the collection’s holdings more accessible to the local community, but setting the exhibition in a historical and aesthetically pleasing venue will contribute to what we believe will be a very engaging historic clothing exhibition,” said curator Dina Smith-Glaviana, assistant professor of fashion merchandising and design at Virginia Tech.

The Alexander Black House is located at 204 Draper Road SW in Blacksburg. Hour are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. To learn more, go to blacksburgmuseum.org, or call 443-1600.

– Submitted by Janean Williams



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