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Brenau showcases changes in women’s roles, fashions
“That ‘70s Show” exhibit is open in Brenau University’s Simmons Visual Art Center. - photo by Scott Rogers

As women’s roles have evolved, so has fashion. 

“That ’70s Show,” an exhibit on display through March 15 at Brenau University’s Simmons Visual Art Center, showcases those changes between the 1870s and 1970s. 

“The contrast between the two we thought would make a great statement of how the lives for women changed in those 100 years, so we’re comparing and contrasting the two eras,” said Charity Armstead, assistant professor and fashion merchandising program director at Brenau. 

In the 1870s, women wore dresses and corsets and primarily worked in the home taking care of their children and husband. By the 1970s, women were playing a different role in the economy. They had begun working in factories and contributing to their household financially and were wearing jeans and pant suits. 

Clothing at the show is separated into themes representing women’s roles in both decades.

Rachel Ward, who’s majoring in fashion merchandising, was one of many students responsible for setting up the exhibit in time for the opening Feb. 8. 

“I pulled the garments from the collection,” she said. “We had a list, and I pulled everything that we needed and I helped set up making arms for the mannequins, making sure all the outfits fit perfectly and just helping set up the exhibit overall.” 

Ward said helping out was a learning opportunity. 

“It’s just the little things — like how to make an arm for a mannequin that doesn’t have any, or how to put a blouse on a mannequin when it may be too small or how we can make it fit the mannequin,” Ward said. “It’s the little things I find interesting that I didn’t know before.”

The exhibit brings attention to Brenau’s fashion program, too. 

“The fashion side of the school doesn’t get to do too terrible much. It’s not as big as our nursing program or our business program,” Ward said. “I think this is kind of a way to show that the fashion program is strong, and we have things to show. And not only that, but we can educate people by showing them garments that are intriguing — like 1870s, there’s not many people that have seen a real piece from the 1870s.”