Step into history and experience over 150 years of women’s sporting fashion pioneered by fearless women at the Figge Art Museum in downtown Davenport, Iowa, this spring.

Sporting Fashion: Outdoor Girls 1800 to 1960, a traveling exhibition organized by the American Federation of Arts and the FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles, opens to the public on February 14, 2023.

Sporting Fashion: Outdoor Girls 1800 to 1960 is the first exhibition to explore the evolution of women’s sporting attire in Western fashion over this 160-year period. Sixty-four fully accessorized ensembles comprised of more than 480 historic objects selected from the exceptional collections of the FIDM Museum will be featured.

“This twelve-year project took us down many paths as we gathered together the very rare objects, many not found in other museum collections,” said Kevin L. Jones, Curator at the FIDM Museum. “Every single woman you see represented in these clothes was the modern woman of her time, whether it was the 1820s or the 1920s.”

Organized into eight themes including Stepping Outdoors, Further Afield, Taking the Reins, Making Waves, Subzero Style, Wheels and Wings, Having a Ball, and A Team Effort, Sporting Fashion explores how clothing met the needs of new pursuits for women, while at the same time preserving their socially approved, restricted mobility. Garments for swimming and tanning illustrate how innovative designers and manufacturers responded to the increasing acceptance of exposed skin at beaches and pools; winter sports ensembles show how apparel for pastimes such as skiing and ice-skating protected female participants from the elements; and ensembles for cycling, motoring, and flying—often adapted from men’s athletic gear—reveal how women navigated open roads and skies. To complement the artifacts on view biographies of important sportswomen will further situate sporting fashion in the broader context of women’s social history. Sporting Fashion: Outdoor Girls 1800 to 1960 will be on view through May 7, 2023.

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