The costume holdings, which includes articles of dress connected to Chicagoans (including items made by Chicago's dressmakers, milliners, and manufacturers) as well as examples of early American attire, is comprised of well over 50,000 objects, including men's, women's, and children's clothing, and accessories.
The earliest costume pieces, dating from the 18th century, include suits worn by George Washington (1793) and John Adams (c. 1780). The collection also has a number of items that belonged to Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, as well as clothing worn by prominent Chicagoans, including items such as former Mayor Jane Byrne's inaugural suit (1979), Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls uniform (1989), and gospel singer Mahalia Jackson's choir robe (1959). In addition, the Museum has an extensive designer collection ranging from rare examples of Paul Poiret creations to the innovative designs of Yohji Yamamoto.
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