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December 22, 2010

Clothes – and Accessories – Made the 18th-century Man or Woman

From hats on the head to shoes on the feet, clothing accessories were as important in the past as they are today. In between the head and the toes, people wore kerchiefs, shawls, gloves, ruffles, aprons, purses, wallets, and jewelry as part of their ensembles. Accessories also can be used to explore history. Scholars from the United States, Canada and England will present lectures providing invaluable details in the story of dress and adornment during the conference, “Costume Accessories: Head to Toe,” March 13-16, 2011, at Colonial Williamsburg’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.

On Sunday, March 13, Susan North, curator of fashions, 1550-1800, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, delivers the keynote address, “Not Just Another Pretty Hat! Studying and Curating Dress Accessories.”

Additional presenters include:

  • Phil Dunning, material culture researcher, Parks Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, “Yeoman and Merchant: Clothing and Accessories from a 1690 New England Shipwreck.”
  • Ann Bissonnette, assistant professor in materials culture and curatorship, and curator, clothing and textiles collection, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, “Off With Their Wigs! Traditions and Revolutions in Hairstyles, 1748-1804.” This program is underwritten by the Costume Society of America’s Midwestern Region.
  • Susan North, curator of fashions, 1550-1800, Victoria and Albert Museum, “An Accessory to Health: Clean Linen and Its Role in Dress, Disease and Gentility.”
  • Cynthia Cooper, head, collections and research, and curator, costume and textiles, McCord Museum of Canadian History, Montreal, Quebec.

    Colonial Williamsburg staff delivering presentations during the conference includes:

  • Linda R. Baumgarten, curator, textiles and costume, Colonial Williamsburg, “From Head to Toe: The Colonial Williamsburg Collection.”
  • Mark Hutter, journeyman tailor, and Erik Goldstein, curator, mechanical arts and numismatics, “Dressed to the Hilt: The Production and Consumption of Men’s Accessories in the 18th Century.”
  • D.A. Saguto, master boot and shoemaker, “From Medieval to Machine Age – A Revolution in Shoemaking.”
  • Robin Kipps, supervisor, Pasteur and Galt Apothecary, “A Prescription for Health and Fashion.”
  • Janea Whitacre, mistress of the millinery and mantua-making trades, “‘Of All Things Millinerial’: People, Product and Public Perception.”
  • Elizabeth Myers, journeyman wigmaker, and the Colonial Williamsburg Wig Shop staff, “Celebrating the Mysteries of 18th-century Hair and Beauty Secrets.”

    In addition, several optional programs will be held.

    “Costume Accessories: Head to Toe” complements the “Fashion Accessories from Head to Toe” exhibition at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, opening on Jan. 29. The exhibit will feature Williamsburg’s collection of men’s and women’s hats, gloves, purses, handkerchiefs, pockets, shoes, stockings, jewelry and wigs from about 1650-1850. These objects will be arranged mostly chronologically along with large-scale reproductions of period images showing similar pieces being used. This exhibition is funded by a generous grant from Mary Turner Gilliland and Clinton R.Gilliland of Menlo Park, Calif., through the Turner-Gilliland Family Fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Mountain View, Calif.

    Colonial Williamsburg and the Costume Society of America are co-sponsoring this conference.

    Registration is $295 per person for the general public or $265 for Costume Society of America members for the Costume Accessories Conference.

    Preregistration and payment in full are required. Payment can be made in the form of check, or charged to American Express, Discover, Visa or MasterCard. There are four easy ways to register for the conference:
    1. Online:
    2. Phone: 1-800-603-0948, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. (EST)
    3. Fax: (757) 565-8921
    4. Mail: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Conferences, Forums and Workshops, P.O. Box 1776, Williamsburg, VA 23187-1776.

    Special hotel rates are available for Holiday Symposium registrants. For room reservations, call 1-800-261-9530, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

    The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Colonial Williamsburg Hotels feature conference spaces and recreation activities from spa and fine dining to world-class golf. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

    Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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