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Historic Clothing Collection


With over 7,000 items in the Historic Clothing and Textile Collection in the Archives, our collection is considered one of the ten best in the United States. Illustrating the history of dress from the late 18th century to the present, the collection offers a personal perspective into our regional history. Included are clothing for men, women and children, fashion accessories and textiles, wedding dresses from many eras and clothing by designers such as Christian Dior and Chanel.

See examples from our collection:
Timeline of Women’s Fashion
Children’s Clothing
Floral Hats

Historic Clothing & Textile Collection items are not available for viewing in our Archives. For questions about our Historic Clothing & Textile Collection: collections@sandiegohistory.org.

The History Center welcomes inquiries regarding donations of historic clothing & textiles to our collection.

To donate an item, please forward a photographic image with complete information, or schedule an appointment: collections@sandiegohistory.org.

Items brought to the History Center without review will not be accepted.



‘Machado’ Quilt
Cotton, hand appliqued, hand quilted, c.1850
Original design by Doña Juana de Dios Machado Alipas Wrightington (1814-1901)

Dinner Dress
Silk, satin brocade, cotton, beaded applique, 1888
Worn to a dinner celebrating the opening of the Hotel del Coronado in February, 1888.

Hand Painted Silk, 1980
Designed by Zandra Rhodes
English clothing designer, Zandra Rhodes, in her iconic pink hair, lives part-time in San Diego and has designed costumes for the San Diego Opera, among others.

Embroidered multi-colored wool paisley, c. 1875
Originally belonged to Mrs. U.S. Grant


Woman’s Suit (jacket detail)
Wool, silk lining, c. 1949
Christian Dior, made in England

Silk, velvet, sequins, beads, lace, c. 1910

Woman’s Suit
Herringbone Wool, 1953
The designer, Gilbert Adrian, worked for the MGM studio starting in 1928 and designed the costumes for over 250 films. In 1941 he set up his own independent fashion house. The “Adrian Original” label was sold in 25 stores across the U.S.

Bloomer Ensemble
Silk and cotton, c. 1850
Very rare example, descended through the Anna Gunn Marston family of San Diego.