Where the runway meets the street

Charleston is home to lots of blonde’s, A.W. Shucks Seafood Nachos and Ben Silver. Until January, 2009, the city and it’s great Charleston Museum is also home to a rather amusing exhibition about how the bicycle helped change the way women dressed in the 19th century. We knew we loved bikes here. What we didn’t know was that they helped our lady friends move towards “less restrictive undergarments.” In all seriousness, the exhibition sounds great, and the permanent collections in Charleston are absolutely fantastic.

“The Charleston Museum presents an original mini-exhibition called Bustles, Bicycles and Ballgowns: Beginnings of Change in Late 19th Century Clothing. Bicycles prompted a change in clothing and less restrictive undergarments.  Late 19th century women could go out on their bicycles unchaperoned for the first time because it was deemed acceptable as exercise. The bustle emerged during this era and proved to be more versatile than the hoop skirt.  This freedom of movement was a major factor in the increasing number of women in the workplace.

Bustles, Bicycles and Ballgowns offers a full range of garments, accessories and even equipment from late 19th century Charleston. In addition to women’s undergarments, walking clothing and formal attire, guests will see an 1890s bicycle, typewriter and shorthand machine. The exhibit also features a try-on station complete with a period-appropriate corset, bustle, and drawers.”

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