Fashion through the ages
Sep 5, 2014 | by Becky Oeltjenbruns
This Labor Day weekend, we headed out for a family reunion/60th wedding anniversary celebration in Falls City, Nebraska. On the way there we stopped off to see one of our favorite destinations: Anntie M’s Attic in Waterville, KS.
As we drove into town, our journey was greeted by a noble railroad line and a lovely brick-covered street. Something about the texture and familiar bumps in the road seemed fitting for our final stop. Anntie M’s Attic takes its place on the corner of North Nebraska Avenue and East Commercial Street. A small building, its window dressings hint at the numerous treasures inside. At the door we were greeted by Ann, dressed in an authentic Victorian ensemble. Her warmth, knowledge, and obvious passion for fashion through the ages made us feel instantly at home. She expertly led us through her vast collection, making note of the various items and key moments in culture and fashion.
Many of the items on display were gifted to her by local friends or their family members. What’s amazing about that is it gives you an exact understanding of each clothing piece’s history. Looking at the picture of the woman who wore a dress while it was in its prime truly makes the past come alive. It’s easy to relate to what her desires and ambitions might have been: a better life for herself and for her children, enjoying a glamorous night out, or keeping it casual while working around the house.
You can learn a lot with Ann at Anntie M’s Attic, like the very real dangers of antique fashion. Seeing the extent of hoop skirts puts the fire risk into perspective, feeling the weight of all the undergarments and accessories helps you to understand the heft of dressing as a proper lady, and seeing the inner workings of a bustle or corset shows how painful some of these trends were. It is incredible to think just how much these looks could honestly limit a woman’s potential. We were cut off from the world of sports and work simply due to what we were conditioned to wear.
Despite all these restrictions, incredible women have always pushed to the forefront of history. Ann is a guardian of women’s history and profiles several key leaders during her presentations: Molly Brown, Eleanor Roosevelt, Princess Di, and many others help to show the ever-changing role of women in power. Hearing their incredible tales of bravery and perseverance take the programs beyond just an appreciation of fashion to a genuine respect for the people who came before us. For example, I had always taken for granted the impact the flapper gal had on the traditional lady. Seeing firsthand the dramatic change in fashion and lifestyle from the 1910s to 1920s makes me respect their courage even more. And that’s the real beauty of Anntie M’s Attic: learning becomes fun. Ann encourages her guests to not just look with their eyes, but to try on hats and touch fabrics – put themselves in the shoes of our ancestors. That kind of experience is memorable and you’ll find yourself engaging in a lot of questions and rethinking previous assumptions.
The opportunities to learn are virtually endless – Ann’s collection extends into shoes, hats, photographs, dresses, pants, undergarments, furniture pieces, books, and magazines. Find yourself here, enjoy a Victorian tea or 1950s style malt, and whatever you do – take your shoes off and stay a while. We guarantee you’ll enjoy every moment you spend at Anntie M’s Attic. We know we did!
Cause A Frockus would like to thank the incredible Ann Walter at Anntie M’s Attic.
For our readers: what is your favorite decade of fashion through the ages?