The fashion history of the patio dress — and a midcentury fascination with Western lore

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Friday, April 28, 2023 - 10:43am
Updated: Friday, April 28, 2023 - 12:05pm

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The patio dress is an icon in Southwestern fashion history with its light cotton fabric and three-tired flowing skirt. These 1950s-style dresses or sets feature bright colors, Southwestern patterns and fancy rick-rack trim. 

Two Arizona designers made them popular midcentury when Southwestern tourism was booming and Western styles abounded. 

Today, the patio dress is an often sought-after vintage commodity and Jenny Kuller, the owner and curator of Redhead Sadie Vintage in Phoenix, is familiar with its popularity.

On Saturday, Kuller will be giving a presentation on the often fraught history of the patio dress at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale as part of its three-day Arizona Tiki Oasis event, where attendees can learn about everything from vintage aloha fashion to the history of midcentury dances like swing and shag. 

The Show spoke with Kuller about the patio dress and its important place in history.

Jenny Kuller wearing a coral patio dress and posing in front of a blank background
Jenny Kuller not only understands the history of the patio dress but also works to teach others about its place in Southwestern culture and history.

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