"American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity" will trace the archetypes of dress and femininity from 1890 to 1940, and then examine how they affect how women are perceived today.
"The ideal of the American woman evolved from a dependence on European, Old World ideas of elegance into an independent New World sensibility that reflected freedoms still associated with American women today," said curator Andrew Bolton in a statement.
"The show will look at fashion's role in defining how American women have been represented historically, and how fashion costumes women into archetypes that still persist in varying degrees of relevance."
Photos: Oprah Winfrey
Photos: The 2009 Costume Gala
Display items will come from the new Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Met, and there will be several multimedia elements in the exhibit. Featured designers include Charles Frederick Worth, Charles James, Valentina and Madeleine Vionnet.
The May 3 gala is the Costume Institute's main fundraising event, and it will be co-chaired by Patrick Robinson, creative director at Gap, and, as has become tradition, Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour. Kate Moss and Justin Timberlake hosted the event last year when the exhibit was about supermodels.
The exhibit is slated to run May 5-Aug. 15.