Silk, cotton, horsehair
Worn by Emma Law
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. H.S. DeMerritt
After their wedding in 1869, Emma Law (1846 – 1937) and Civil War veteran Charles H. DeMerritt lived on Maple Street in a house built by Charles where the Merritt Apartments, named for their family, stood until 2020. Emma was one of the founding members of the New Canaan Historical Society in 1889 and an active member of the community. In recognition of her prominence, between 1930 and 1933, the Memorial Day parade was rerouted through Maple Street in order to allow for Emma to watch from her window.
The dress illustrates a fashion trend from the 1860s with a wide silhouette and distinct sleeves. Skirts reached their absolute largest circumference with diameters of up to four feet. This was achieved by the cage crinoline, a lightweight hooped undergarment that eliminated the need for heavy, layered petticoats. Daytime bodices featured a variety of sleeves, often long, and waistlines moved upwards. Corsets were not tight-laced during this period, as wide skirts made waists look small by comparison.