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Stylized peonies and chrysanthemums amid scrolling vines are depicted on the Japanese fabric of the bodice and upper sleeves of this dress.
The pleated and tucked U-shaped front bodice fabric radiates out above the waist. The fullness is released around the bust and then gathered again around the shoulders.
World War II brought about a number of social and economic changes, including the profound impact that the rationing of textiles and the assimilation of women into the workforce had on fashion. Hemlines were raised to just below the knees, and padded shoulders, a direct influence from military uniforms, became a trademark of war-era fashion.
Mrs. Robert S. Ashby* (Susan Gatch Ashby) Indianapolis, through her son Willis Ashby and daughter Jean Ashby care of Claudia Yokooji, California; given to IMA September 2008.
*Piece may have belonged to Mrs. Ashby's mother, Mrs. Gatch.