1889 – 1920 Modernizing America Supplemental Materials

Art Activities

Exercise and Functional Fashion

Industrialized clothing manufacturing during the second half of the 20th century paved the way for new department stores. This new urban space helped change the way women lived within the city. Before 1850, it was unusual to see a respectable woman out in public without a male companion. New shopping districts offered places for independent leisure and refreshment. Affluent women could socialize unchaperoned, and working-class women could find white-collar jobs as sales clerks and buyers. At the same time, city parks across the country provided recreational space for women to enjoy independently and where they could engage in physical activities including ice skating and bicycling.

Students will embody the role of creative designer for a 19th century department store on Ladies’ Mile. Their job is to market one of three new recreational outfits worn by the modern woman (a cycling suit, a golf ensemble, or a gym suit) by constructing a three-dimensional window display that exhibits the unique characteristics of their chosen outfit and how it represents the changing societal roles of women.

To read and download the lesson plan for this art activity,