Originally designed for utilitarian purposes, accessories evolved into beautiful objects. The Clothing and Textiles Collection of the Museum of Texas Tech University has more than 2,000 examples of accessories. Intended as protection for the head and feet as well as a way to carry things, hats, shoes and purses have changed with fashion. Fans, intended to keep the holder cool but also used as an accessory for flirtation are also found in the collection.
Early hats in Texas not only enhanced the fashionable silhouette but also provided necessary protection from the sun. In the first three quarters of the 20th century hats were an essential component of the attire of the properly dressed woman. Although still worn on special occasions hats are more difficult to wear today because of the development of the high headrest in cars to protect against whiplash. The diminishing importance of hats in the 1970s, other than "baseball caps," can be tied to the timing of the arrival of those protective headrests in cars. Royals still consider hats an essential part of their outfit, but few if any drive themselves to functions but rather sit in a back seat where headrests are lower.
Early purses were tiny knitted pouches that were often looped over a belt. Many beautiful beaded and enameled purses, fashionable in the 1920s are part of the collection. The shoes in the collection range from high button boots that walked the dusty streets of West Texas, before the advent of the automobile, to silk pumps embroidered in gold from Italy.
These beautiful examples remain as inspiration for today's designers and as symbols of life of an earlier era.