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Keeping it

The GRPM Blog

Explore the GRPM’s Fashion Collection.


July 22, 2020

1950s Party Dress

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"What Should I Wear?"

It’s an important question many of us ask ourselves every day. While clothing protects us from the elements like wind and rain, it also establishes our social status and serves as a form of self expression. Looking at clothing worn throughout history helps people today better understand those of the past.

One of the Museum’s largest Collections is the Fashion Collection which consists of approximately 10,000 clothing and accessory pieces, dating as far back as the 1700s. 

Items in the GRPM’s Collection showcase how fashion is an important cultural artifact. Clothing acts as a form of communication where individuals and groups express themselves through the designs they wear. This Collection is a valuable resource for exhibitions, educators, students, designers, researchers and curious minds of all ages.

The Fashion Collection offers a fascinating view of the social and cultural history of the midwestern United States and the world. Strong areas include women’s clothing from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, wedding attire, uniforms, and history and athletic wear such as swimsuits and school gym clothing. Many of the pieces in the Fashion Collection were worn and purchased here in West Michigan. Travelers also brought back garments from other countries, providing a glimpse into cultural clothing traditions from around the globe.

The GRPM is actively seeking more clothing items and accessories to add to our Collection. Currently, our Collections team is interested in innovative fashion designer items, sustainable fashion and iconic men’s styles.

By: Andrea Melvin, GRPM Collections Curator