Metro Weekly

History in Taffeta

Marjorie Merriweather Post wore a lot of hats throughout her life –- and a lot of dresses

Ingenue to Icon - Photo courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens
Ingenue to Icon – Credit: Hillwood

Every year around this time, we’re bombarded with new trends, as hot styles trickle down from New York Fashion Week, or the latest issue of Vogue. We’re told we need to have florals for spring and faux fur for winter. There is one thing, however, the fashion industry can’t take away: a personal aesthetic. And that’s something Marjorie Merriweather Post always had.

The cereal heiress’s former home, The Hillwood Estate, is celebrating her aesthetic with Ingénue to Icon, an exhibit showcasing Post’s taste, and how it changed with the years. “What I like about this collection,” says Angie Dodson, Hillwood’s Co-chair of Exhibits, “is that it really is a window into history, but a very personal history.”

In a tiny house behind Post’s mansion, sumptuous silk and taffeta dresses are proudly displayed in chronological order. From ruffles to raised waists, Post’s wardrobe was not just a collection of clothes, but a cavalcade of costumes she donned to project an image. Wedged between two evening dresses, a simple tan plaid suit dress stands out in the collection. This was a piece worn by Post when she fought for the right for women to vote.

Across the room, a formal white silk gown in a faces the suffragette uniform, reminding the visitor of the lavish parties she hosted throughout the years.

And all of these dresses were tailored specifically for the female entrepreneur. “When Marjorie really liked a dress,” says Dodson, “she tended to make duplicates of it in different fabrics.”

Ingenue to Icon is on exhibit at the Hillwood Museum, 4155 Linnean Ave NW, through December 31st. Open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 a.m. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, $10 for students, and children under 6 are free. For more information, visit

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