The First Lady of Texas’ many roles are often a welcome respite from the rigors of state politics. Join our native Texan social chronicler Lance Avery Morgan as he learns more about the First Ladies, the First Ladies Gown Collection at TWU Denton, and how the women wore their responsibilities as they led our state into the future.
One of our state’s greatest natural resources is always our First Lady of Texas, the wife of the governor. Luckily for this state so rich in history, the legacy of current and past grand women who led can be seen at the Texas Woman’s University’s Texas First Ladies Historic Costume Collection in Denton.
According to the University, the collection is much more than a chronology of fashion. It reflects the spirit of Texas. Progressing from the 1800s through the industrial 1900s and into this modern century, the First Ladies of Texas were icons of grace and compassion. Each woman leaves her own legacy, but all share common threads that seamlessly stitch together Texas’ First Ladies’ assorted patchwork of experience that has complemented the fabric of life in their eras.
The collection is a grand springboard into the living history of Texas women. The University welcomes visitors to enjoy this fascinating collection of gowns and encourages seeing beyond the heirloom garments and into the chambers of Texas’ past. Accompanying each gown is information about the respective First Lady and the provenance of the gown. Some were handmade and some were store bought, yet each gown reflects the aspirations of the state, many of them from the inaugural balls that were a shining light in the Lone Star social season. The collection currently displays 21 of the 47 collected gowns, of which 46 are owned by the University and one is on loan. The display rotates at various times throughout the year so that all the different gowns may be enjoyed in the collection hall. Each dress has been loaned or donated by various sources to the University. Restoration, storage and upkeep of the collection is made by generous donations from the community including the Texas Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Denton Benefit League.