speech and language teaching concepts for Fancy Party Gowns in speech therapy​
Frequent Speech Sounds:

/dr/ initial
/f/ initial
/s/ medial
/z/ final
/sh/ initial


Black History Month
fashion designer

Book Details:
Diverse Characters: Yes
Age Recommendation: Late Elementary, Middle School

Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe

By Deborah Blumenthal

A beautiful picture book about Ann Cole Lowe, a little-known African-American fashion designer who battled personal and social adversity in order to pursue her passion of making beautiful gowns and went on to become one of society’s top designers.

As soon as Ann Cole Lowe could walk, her momma and grandma taught her to sew. She worked near her momma in their Alabama family shop in the early 1900s, making glorious dresses for women who went to fancy parties. When Ann was 16, her momma died, and Ann continued sewing dresses. It wasn’t easy, especially when she went to design school and had to learn alone, segregated from the rest of the class. But the work she did set her spirit soaring, as evidenced in the clothes she made, including Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress and Olivia de Havilland’s dress at the Oscars when she won for Best Actress in To Each His Own. Rarely credited, Ann Cole Lowe became “society’s best kept secret.” This beautiful picture book shines the spotlight on a little-known visionary who persevered in times of hardship, always doing what she was passionate about: making elegant gowns for the women who loved to wear them.

This biographical Black History Month book can be used in speech therapy to address rich vocabulary and social emotional concepts such as segregation and perseverance. It is also great for describing character traits! Discover more of the speech and language teaching concepts for using Fancy Party Gowns in speech therapy below: 

Key Teaching Concepts

Narrative Structure:

complete episode

Narrative Concepts:

character analysis
figurative language
social emotional
verbs (regular past tense)


order of events that led Ann to be one of the greatest fashion designers


fashion, designer, fancy, gowns, sew, slave, glorious, extravagant, elegant. Ivory, silk, taffeta, bouffant, pleated, destroyed, despite, odds, Negro, recognition, deserve, official, couturiere, honor, applaud

Character Analysis:

When Ann’s mother passed away and there was no one to finish making dresses, Ann courageously stepped up and finished the job. Ann was determined and got a job sewing dresses when she grew up and even went to design school. She overcame obstacles when she opened her own shop as well.


Ann faced struggles during the time of segregation including having study alone in a separate classroom and when designing dresses for white clients.

Figurative Language:

simile (fall like confetti, as bright as roses)
metaphor (set your spirit soaring)



























diom (death stole away her momma)


verbs (regular past tense)


How do you think Ann felt during each obstacle?
Why was it important to Ann to never miss an order?
Why did the butler say she had to enter through the front door?
Why did Ann demand walking through the front?
Why was this wedding important?
Why did Ann make dresses?