Head to Toe: Hat and Shoe Fashions from Historic New England

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Head to Toe: Hat and Shoe Fashions from Historic New England showcases forty-six hats and pairs of shoes worn in New England from the 1750s to the present. It is the latest in Historic New England’s series of exhibitions at the Eustis Estate Museum and Study Center in Milton, Massachusetts.

Often the most luxurious and decorative aspects of dress, hats and shoes reveal fascinating stories about social status and personal style. Whether attending a wedding, going to worship, or celebrating with friends, New Englanders dressed for the occasion. Stylish objects show New Englanders’ notions of glamorous dressing, including designer pillbox hats and custom-made boots, silk top hats and gold stiletto heels. Other exhibition highlights are boots worn during Boston’s Big Dig and a pair of Julia Child’s shoes.

Head to Toe also explores the creation of these fashion accessories and their effect on New England’s economy, workforce, and environment. The exhibition looks at how fashion influences our self-image and presentation, offering visitors multiple ways to consider each piece on display. Arranged thematically, the exhibition explores body image, gender identity, cultural appropriation, and activism.

“This exhibition combines fun, fashionable accessories with surprising details and rich context, which is what I love about Historic New England’s collection—the stories are as great as the objects,” said Curator Laura Johnson.

The exhibition is on display at the Eustis Estate Museum and Study Center in Milton, Massachusetts, through February 24, 2019.