Update: Memorabilia Monday: Costumes

Front of coat

On Friday, we received the Ayers Plantation collection. Although it won’t be ready for research for a few months, I wanted to give you a sneak peek at one of the special items.

The Ayers family between the early 1910s and the late 1920s enjoyed putting on plays for each other. To this end, they made costumes and had some made by tailors. The jacket above was made for Esther May Ayers. The piece is quite exquisite with its thick lining, frog closures,  and knotted brocade on the collar. It is one of many costumes in the collection.

Front detail

front of collar

front of collar

Tailor's tag

inner lining

inner lining

Back of collar detail

Back of collar detail

UPDATE: This costume is actually not a costume. Here’s the real story from a member of the Ayers family:

There is not a lot of wear on it, and this could possibly be the outfit from one of the old family stories:  When my grandmother Esther was married, she lived on the plantation with her husband Towns.  Part of her trousseau was a navy blue riding habit, of which she was exceptionally proud.  She wore it the first time she rode into town [She hailed from Illinois. This would have been a small town in rural Louisiana or Mississippi.] as a new bride.  The guys left her in the general store and went to do their other errands.  She stood there and stood there, and the merchant would not acknowledge her or wait on her.  Finally, the guys came back and got her.  They realized that the store owners were ignoring her because they thought she was collecting for the Salvation Army.  She was mortified and furious in equal measures.  Not sure she ever wore the outfit again.
Esther May Martin Ayers (1895-1972) was married in March 1918. Thus, the date of this piece is from that year.

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