Newark History Museum

A Lingerie Dress

A hundred years ago, a lingerie dress was less scandalous than it sounds today. When 25-year-old Margaret Jester stepped out in her lingerie dress on the streets of Newark, Delaware, around 1910, no one would have batted an eye.

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Floor-length and with full or half sleeves, lingerie dresses were quite popular in the early years of the twentieth century. Invariably white, they offered a cool, fashionable garment for summer wear in particular. Moreover, they were quite pretty, with elaborate lace, embroidery, and other embellishments – either hand-made or store-bought. It was this lace and the resemblance to the similar “chemise gowns” of the eighteenth century that provided the “lingerie” name.

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And so Jester would not be embarrassed at all for you to see her lingerie gown, carefully preserved by her descendants and now on display at the Newark History Museum. Along with this dress, you can see objects from Newark’s businessmen, soldiers, factory workers, moviegoers, students, firefighters, and farmers. All of these treasures of local history are housed in Newark’s 1877 train station. It’s just the sort of place where, on a hot summer’s day in 1910, Margaret Jester might have stood in the ladies’ waiting room, listening for an approaching train, wearing her lingerie dress.

newark-exteriorVisit the Newark History Museum

Location: 429 S. College Ave., Newark, DE 19711

Phone: (302) 224-2408

Hours: April-November, Sunday, 2PM-5PM.

Admission: Free!

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