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Boot Camp exhibition at Lois Jett Historic Costume Collection gallery

World War I and World War II uniforms on exhibition in Boot Camp

The Lois Jett Historic Costume Collection (LJHCC) in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at Illinois State University invites the public to the collection’s new exhibition, Boot Camp: A Century of Military Attire, running through January 30, 2020.

Boot Camp showcases 15 military uniform ensembles ranging from a 1917 World War I uniform to a ROTC uniform worn at Illinois State in 2018. Uniforms throughout the exhibition were worn by men and women in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Visitors learn history behind uniform design, as well as view changes over time in styles, fabrics, and colors.

Desert Camouflage Air Force uniform, 2004, in Boot Camp

Desert Camouflage Air Force uniform, 2004, in Boot Camp

The exhibition was planned and installed by students in the fashion design and merchandising program at Illinois State. According to exhibition lead curators Hailey McCastland ’19 and Kyla Slayton ’19, the goal is to honor military veterans by showcasing dress worn in peacetime and war, throughout the last century.

“The Boot Camp exhibition features the historical garments that hold the most value in history,” Slayton said. “Several of the uniforms that are featured in this exhibition tell a story of not only a particular war or military engagement, but also of a specific period in time overall.

“This exhibit highlights the aspects of a military uniform that are often forgotten, such as world factors that affected textiles and how the designs of the uniforms were used.”

Spotlighting military garments is also relevant because of its ties to current fashions. “Military inspired clothing such as combat boots and bomber jackets have been fashionable trends in the general public, and I think it is important to know where they came from,” McCastland said. “There were many reasons why soldiers wore what they did, and many people do not know that. Education is key; the more people know, the more respect and appreciation they may gain toward the military.”

This free exhibition is located in 126 Turner Hall on Illinois State’s campus and is open to the campus and surrounding community.

The LJHCC was created in 1962 by Lois Jett, a professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. Over the years, the collection has expanded to more than 2,000 items of men’s, women’s, and children’s dress and related artifacts from around the world dating from the 1840s to today. Follow the LJHCC on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates and additional information about holdings.

Gallery hours through December 5, 2019, are Mondays and Wednesdays 2:30 to 4 p.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays 9 to 10:30 a.m. The gallery will also be open Sunday, October 27, and Sunday, November 17, from 1to 3 p.m. To schedule additional times Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or for more information, contact Jennifer Banning.

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