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The June Fete Dress

Source: the late Valerie McGhee, Women’s Board Archivist and Historian

In the early twenties, the members of the Abington Memorial Hospital Women’s Board were appalled by what young girls were wearing to the hospital’s annual June Fete Village Fair. With their usual resourcefulness, the Board members came up with the “June Fete Dress,” a solution that added to the June Fete excitement and raised funds for the hospital.

Debuting in 1921, the June Fete Dress became a tradition, and each year, a new design was introduced to be purchased and worn by local women to the fair.

By the 1930s, with the advent of the fashion show, designers were beginning to vie for the opportunity to design the popular dress and local debutantes were chosen as models. Held at major area estates, the fashion show became a significant East Coast event and the Pathe News Agency began filming it annually, showing clips in theaters across the country. In 1935, the Ladies Home Journal featured an article on the June Fete dress.

By the 1950’s, the June Fete dress was a major annual fundraiser for the Women’s Board and more than 55 women served on the committee to promote its sale. Designs were added for children and men, and mother/daughter and father/son outfits were popular.

In the later decades, local department stores advertised the designs, which included trends such as monogrammed shirts and dresses. Culottes and Bermuda shorts were featured in the sixties and painted wrap skirts and sportswear were popular in the seventies and eighties. The era of the June Fete dress came to an end in the late eighties when it was dropped from the fair.

June Fete Dress Photos