With rare exceptions, the women who were clients of A. & L. Tirocchi did not work, but they did not lead idle lives. As members of prominent families, they were expected to be active socially, and to do some degree of charitable work. They entertained often and traveled frequently, often following seasonal patterns to winter or summer resorts. The women also actively participated in a variety of clubs and, in the earliest decades of the twentieth century at least, paid regular visits to each other as part of an established social regimen.

A woman who was leading this busy life could easily change clothes several times a day. Clothing for a shopping outing differed from clothing for visiting. The ritual of afternoon visiting required afternoon gowns, with matching hats and accessories. The hostess receiving guests would also be beautifully attired, minus the hat and gloves. At-home dresses when guests were not expected could be more casual. If a woman went out for a social club function, such as a tea or a book review, she wore another type of elaborate gown, as she would if she had a luncheon date. However, if she were going to do charitable work, she could "dress down," although this always still meant dress, hat, and gloves.

In the evening, a woman wore her fanciest dress for entertaining at home, going to a dinner party, or going out to the theater or opera hall. These gowns were even more complex in design and richer in fabric and trim. No expense was spared for these dresses. Because they were the most distinctive, these dresses also had the shortest life span. A woman could wear them one year or two at most, then she would have them re-made to refresh the design and make it appear to be a brand-new gown. This was as commonly done then as today’s custom of mixing and matching separate pieces of clothing to achieve new fashion looks. Women also needed different wardrobes for travelling, especially to different climates.

A diary of one of the Tirocchi clients found at the Rhode Island Historical Society reveals that in 1926, the year she became a customer, she went to dinner parties every evening in early January, at the homes of various friends. Later in the winter social season, she attended dinner dances, birthday parties, luncheons at the Providence Art Club, Bridge Club, Junior League meetings, theater parties, the movies, and had friends to dinner and card games. All these activities required special clothing. In addition, she served on the board of the Providence Lying-In Hospital (a maternity hospital), attending many meetings annually, each of which demanded a different "good outfit."

In the early 1900s, women wore tightly fitting corsets, over which they layered a corset cover and several petticoats before they put on their outer clothing, which often also consisted of several layers of silk or satin or other luxurious fabric. These gowns were custom made so that they hugged a woman’s corseted form and flattered her figure. The skirts were full and rustled with yards of fabric, supported by yards of petticoats underneath. Women worked with their dressmakers to choose designs, and to combine fabric with ribbons, buttons, bows, beads, and feathers.

These encasing clothes restricted a woman’s movement. However, many women were beginning to play sports during their leisure time. Women took up golf and tennis, even softball, and needed clothes that would allow freer movement for these activities. Knitted jersey fabrics and newer designs that allowed women to swing their arms and run without becoming entangled in their clothes came on the scene as "sporting clothes." Women still wore skirts, blouses, and jackets, but were not as restrained by them.

By the time A. & L. Tirocchi was operating in downtown Providence, new fashions were sweeping into America from Europe, dresses that fit the body more naturally and did not require corsets. Women, especially young women, were happy to discard their corsets in favor of this more comfortable clothing. Dresses became slimmer, without the multitude of petticoats, and hemlines gradually rose. By the 1920s, the chemise came into vogue, with no waistline and a very shortened hemline. The Tirocchi clients still chose expensive fabrics for these newer designs, but they were free from the layered clothing of previous decades.

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  The Family
  The Business
  The Clients
      Valued Clients
      Social Life & Wardrobe
      Relationship to Anna
      Changing Clientele
  The Workers