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Accessories help to define the way individuals present themselves to the world. On May 1, the Evanston History Center (EHC) will open “The Finishing Touch: Evanston Accessorized!” an exhibit of clothing accessories for men, women, and children,1860-2000.The exhibit features fashion accessories – from the practical to the highly decorative and whimsical – and explores their uses over time. The items are drawn from EHC’s extensive costume collection, which is rich in pieces used by Evanstonians throughout the history of the City. The exhibit is curated by EHC’s costume curator, Janet C. Messmer.

The exhibit looks at how accessory items have evolved through time, both in style and use. Some, considered essential in the past, have either changed form or fallen into disuse, while others, formerly unknown, are considered vital today. The contemporary woman does not carry a vinaigrette filled with smelling salts in case she feels faint or wear a silver chatelaine with an ivory notepad and silver mechanical pencil. But her ancestors in the late 19th century well might have.

And today’s trend-setters would have difficulty explaining to their ancestors why they wear a Fitbit.

Walking sticks, parasols, fans, chatelaines, gloves, hats, shoes, stockings, spurs, riding crops, garters, jewelry, posy holders, shoe trees, cigarette holders, match boxes, and many other items from the mid-19th through the 20th century will be on display. Additionally, the exhibit looks into the businesses that created for or sold such items to Evanstonians.

The exhibit, open 1-4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, runs through Dec. 2017. Admission is $10, free for EHC members. The EHC is partnering with the Evanston Public Library (EPL) to bring fashion-related programming to the public throughout the exhibit run. A series of fashion-related films will be shown throughout the exhibit.

On April 30 from 1-2:30 p.m. the Main Branch of the library will screen “The September Issue,” a documentary that goes behind the scenes at Vogue Magazine as staff pull together their most important issue of the year. The film screening is free and open to all.

After the film attendees can make cool items to accessorize their wardrobes at the “Make an Accessory Workshop,” led by EPL’s Kim Hiltwein, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. The workshop is free and open to all. Other related events and film screenings to accompany the exhibit will take place at the EPL, Main Branch, 1703 Orrington Ave.

The EHC is housed in the national landmark, Charles Gates Dawes House at 225 Greenwood St. Free parking is available on the street. More information is available at evanstonhistorycenter.org.