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Lapham Dress


Worn by Unknown
Gift of Waveny House

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Audio Guide

Donated to the New Canaan Museum by Waveny House in April 2001, the ivory bodice and matching skirt ensemble were found in a chest of drawers during the Lapham Community Center renovation. The skirt and bodice presumably belonged to the Lapham family for over 100 years.

The cuirass bodice is form-fitting, long waisted and boned, almost giving the appearance of armor as the name suggests. It is made solely with princess seams and lacks a horizontal waist seam, hugging the wearer to create a long, slim silhouette. Additional boning helps minimize wrinkling and creasing in the fabric. The waist of the garment comes to a point below the hips on the front and back, further emphasizing the elongated form. The lack of a rigid bustle, prominent in the early 1880s, indicates a more “natural” form.

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