Missouri’s most extensive collection of historical garments, the Stephens College Costume Museum and Research Library (CMRL) holds more than 13,000 garments and accessories, with pieces dating back to 1730.

Among the many designers represented are Oleg Cassini, Arnold Scaasi, Gilbert Adrian, Bill Blass, Bonnie Cashin, Chanel, Courreges, Madame Etta, Claire McCardell, Norman Norell, Oscar de la Renta and Valentino.

Established in 1958, the archive has grown by donations from alumnae, friends and designers. The working collection allows students to study garment construction and fashion trends that provide inspiration for current styles. Archival storage areas protect the integrity of the collection, and classroom space allows for research and lecture discussions.

Students are encouraged to conduct individual research projects, curate exhibits, and gain valuable archive and historic conservation experience by interning with the CMRL.


Historic Costume Gallery

The Historic Costume Gallery hosts two free public exhibits each year. All items displayed are pulled from the Costume Museum and Research Library. The gallery is a frequent home for lectures, events and research. Special tours are available.


Current Exhibit

Suffrage: What’s Fashion Got To Do With It?

Fall 2019-Spring 2020

This exhibit of more than 25 garments and accessories from the 1870s to the 1920s demonstrates the role fashion played in women’s struggle for the right to vote. From corsets and bustles to flapper dresses, the exhibition invites visitors to consider what fashion had to do with the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment and what fashion continues to mean for women’s rights today.


As we approach a presidential election year, we are proud to be celebrating the passage of the 19th Amendment as a women’s college. Women’s history and fashion history are woven together in the social fabric of our nation, which makes this exhibition important for anyone working, studying and living in the U.S.”

Dr. Lori Hall-Arajuo, Museum Curator and Assistant Professor of Fashion

All exhibits are free and open to the public.

Gallery Hours:
5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursdays
12-3 p.m. Sundays
Saturdays: by appointment
Closed during Stephens College holidays.


Past Exhibits

Gallery Exhibition Photos >

Contact Us

Costume Museum and Research Library

Lela Raney Wood Hall, Mezzanine
(573) 876-7233 [email protected] 6 N. College Ave.

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