Dresses by Decade

Dresses 1950-2007

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Mary Jean Rose Loire, 1963. Dress.

Mary Jean Rose Loire, 1963. Dress.
Mary Jean Rose Loire, 1963
Mary Jean Rose grew up in Clayton and attended William Woods College and Northwestern University in Chicago. She worked at the Beacon Paper Company in St. Louis before her marriage to John Thompson Loire in 1963. Also a native of St. Louis, John attended Washington University and served in the 70th Infantry Division in World War II. Mary and John’s wedding was well covered by the local newspapers, offering photographs and descriptions of the dresses and ceremony.

After their wedding, the couple traveled to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and Dallas for their honeymoon. When they returned they moved to Glendale, where they still reside. John became the owner of P. Loire Wallpaper and Frescoing Company, a family business that was incorporated in the mid-19th century. Mary stayed at home with their daughter, Marianne.

Mary Loire wore this short two-piece peau de soie dress for her wedding to John Thompson Loire on February 2, 1963. The dress is sleeveless with a fitted bodice and a tea-length skirt. The dress also has a short net and lace jacket trimmed in beads, which also appear on the bodice of the dress. Short wedding dresses came into style in the 1960s for the second time (the first time being the 1920s) as some women, like Mary, were looking for simpler options, while others were rebelling against traditions and norms.

Two-piece ivory peau de soie wedding dress with net and lace detailing, 1963
Worn by Mary Jean Rose Loire
Purchased at Montaldos St. Louis
Gift of Mrs. John T. Loire

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 Kathleen Trost Ross, 1970. Linen ensemble.

Kathleen Trost Ross, 1970. Linen ensemble.
Kathleen Trost Ross, 1970
Kathleen Trost was born and raised in St. Louis. She attended Holy Family Grade School in south St. Louis and St. Elizabeth’s High School. After high school, Kathleen attended Saint Louis University, where she met Don Ross. Kathleen and Don were married on August 29, 1970.

The two formed a folk group, which performed at Catholic churches in the late 1960s. Don Ross was tireless in his efforts to preach to Catholics and in his attempts to change the Mass experience for the better. With an emphasis on peace and racial equality, Don used the combination of Catholicism and folk music to spread the word of God. In the late 1960s, when Don, an African American, was ministering to all-white congregations, he was breaking racial as well as religious barriers.

A few years after their marriage, Kathy and Don became known as the Don and Kathy Group. As professional musicians, the duo played nightclubs across upstate New York and other states on the eastern seaboard. After their brief stint as professional musicians, Kathy and Don returned to St. Louis, opened an audio store, Don and Kathy’s House of Music, and settled down. Kathy gave birth to two children, Jessica and Jonathan, and shared her love of music as a music teacher at Childgrove School.

Kathleen Trost wore this two-piece linen ensemble for her wedding to Don Ross. The A-line top and crocheted bell-bottom trousers are nontraditional wedding attire and speak volumes about both the unusual fashion trends of the time period and this era of creative self-expression for women.

Two-piece off-white linen wedding ensemble, 1970
Worn by Kathleen Trost Ross
Gift of Kathleen M. Ross

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Zella Voncile Smith Williams, 1994. Nigerian-style ensemble.

Zella Voncile Smith Williams, 1994. Nigerian-style ensemble.
Zella Voncile Smith Williams, 1994
Zella Voncile Williams was born in Cleveland and moved to St. Louis when she was six years old. She graduated from Hazelwood East High School in 1985 and went on to receive a bachelor of science in social work in 1989 and a master’s degree in social work from Washington University in 1993. Voncile met Charles C. Williams Jr. over the phone in 1992, a match made by a longtime friend. Charles was a graduate of City High School and attended Southern University in Louisiana before returning to St. Louis in 1991.

Voncile and Charles were married October 8, 1994, at San Francisco Temple Complex. Their wedding included eight bridesmaids and groomsmen, four flower girls, and one ring bearer, all dressed in Nigerian clothing and accompanied down the aisle by African drumbeats. Voncile is currently working with people infected with HIV, and Charles owns his own business. The couple has two sons.  Zella Voncile Smith Williams, 1994. Nigerian-style ensemble. Detail.

Zella Voncile Smith Williams, 1994. Nigerian-style ensemble. Detail.

When Voncile and Charles were wed, they decided to have an Afrocentric celebration. Voncile wore this Nigerian Buba (white top) and Iro (pink wrap skirt) with a Gele (head piece) and snakeskin shoes. Charles wore a Nigerian Agbada (top), Buba (top), and Sokoto (pants), along with a Fila (headpiece) and snakeskin shoes

Multi-piece Nigerian-style wedding ensemble including pink wrap skirt and white satin top, 1994
Worn by Zella Voncile Smith Williams
Courtesy of Voncile Williams

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