1870s Tea Gown Style…

Today’s tea gown selection dates from circa 1875-1879 and incorporates a princess line style:

Tea Gown/Day Dress, c. 1875-1879; Kent State Museum (1983.001.0138)

The front of the gown presents a contrast between a purple colored front combined with white outer sides and back. The back and side fabric has a purple floral decorative motif (printed or embroidered is hard to determine). Running along the left side of the dress are a series of purple ribbon bows that help to create the illusion that the dress is a robe draped over a purple underskirt. However, in reality, it’s all one dress as can be seen in this close-up:

As can be seen from this close-up, it’s actually all one dress constructed in the princess line style. On the right one can see a row of buttons running town the front of the dress and the purple colored front is acting as a long plastron. Interestingly enough, the buttons and the ribbons on the front and cuffs appear to be more of a blue color. And here’s the side profile, both left and right:

Left Side Profile

Right Side Profile

The profile pictures illustrate that there’s a well-defined train and as such, this garment was probably made towards the Mid-1870s and would have been worn with a bustle. Below you can see the train:

Rear View

Compared the front, the rear is fairly unexceptional and presents a fairly conventional train except for the outline of purple ruffles running along the train. Unfortunately, the museum staging is not the best and the trim line is somewhat jumbled. This is a gown that we would love to have an opportunity to examine in person; the train is strangely asymmetrical and it would be interesting to see if this was by design or simply poor staging. But is what most compelling about this gown is the front- the color is amazing and it presents a bold contrast with the rest of the gown. We hope you’ve enjoyed this gown and may it be an inspiration. 🙂

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