Exhibition \\ Made It

Section 4: Making Choices

The pace of women defining themselves within society accelerated in the 20th century. They embodied a variety of roles and lifestyles and chose clothing that complemented their sense of self. In 1938, a Los Angeles County judge sent kindergarten teacher Helen Hulick to jail because she wore slacks in the courtroom. Moments like this fueled the growing women’s liberation movement and heavily influenced fashion in the postwar period.

The modern woman no longer felt beholden to styles dictated by the patriarchal media or other outlets that didn’t align with her philosophies—and designers reciprocated. Women scrutinized their role in society and what they demanded from their clothing.

Diane von Fürstenberg, wrap dress, 1975. Adnan Ege Kutay Collection. © 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photo by Bob Packert.

Diane von Fürstenberg, wrap dress, 1975. Adnan Ege Kutay Collection. © 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photo by Bob Packert.


A new range of styles reflected the fast-paced lives and needs of a vast and international consumer base. From mid-century on, the decades saw the rise of the high status fashion designer, body-conscious maternity wear, and the almost universal adoption of pants--with and without pockets.

Section 1: Breaking In

Section 2: Gaining Momentum

Section 3: Seismic Shifts

Section 5: Designing for Change

Made It: The Women Who Revolutionized Fashion