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Lunch4design with Ned Lazaro

Enjoy lunch and hear about “Getting the Sack: Understanding a Controversial Late-1950s Garment”

A seated lunch with wine is catered by Diane Browne.

The keynote address proposes to analyze the sack dress within the context of American fashion during the fall of 1957 and spring of 1958. The modern garment, featuring an undefined waistline that abstracted the female body beneath, was both extremely popular and extremely controversial. The uproar against the style has become legendary, but to term the style a failure glosses over a more nuanced trajectory of 1950s styles, and the legacy the sack dress actually established for Western women’s fashion. In hindsight the arguments against the sack centered around gendered expectations of how a woman was supposed to appear in her clothes. Through an understanding of the precedents, timeline, and reactions to the garment, as well as a material culture analysis, Lazaro’s talk contextualizes both the sack’s moment in dress history as well as its legacy and contribution to 20th-century fashion.


David E. (Ned) Lazaro is the Associate Curator of Costume and Textiles at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Ned has researched, lectured, published, and taught on various aspects of Western clothing and textiles from the 17th through 21st centuries. His research focuses on design history, the aesthetics and sensory experiences of fashion, and identity formation.

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We are excited to announce that construction on the Jim and Dede Bartlett Center for New Canaan History is underway! Events will occur as scheduled, but because of the logistical challenges in the main building, the portrait exhibition is available by appointment only. Please contact