During the late 19th Century, fashion trends moved more slowly than today but nevertheless, they were still on the move. Charles Frederick Worth was one of the major trend-setters of the day and he was closely watched by the fashion press. Below are some comments in regard to Paris fashion trends in the January 1887 edition of Peterson’s Magazine in regard to day wear:
For streetwear, Worth has just introduced a new and very effective material, in wide stripes of steel-gray chenille cloth alternating with stripes of the same width in dark green cashmere. This material is made up in a corsage [bodice] and long overskirt, the latter being caught up over an underskirt of green cashmere, the striped skirt being cut on the bias.
In plain material, as many as three different stuffs, all of the same color, are often employed In the same toilette, such as velvet, brocade, or stamped velvet, and satin, in a dressy costume, or cashmere, and faille, and velvet, in a less gorgeous one.
Worth’s latest costumes have the waist and skirt in the same material, the latter being slightly caught up at the sides and shortened in front, to show the underskirt of a richer material and contrasting color. Thus, peach-kernel Sicilienne is made up over dark-heliotrope stamped velvet, and silver -gray over dark mouse-gray or ruby velvet.
Below are some illustrations from 1887 that illustrate the trends noted above:
While it is not easy to always discern the precise fabrics from fashion plates, based on what we know of the period we can make some educated guesses. The bodice and overskirt for the dress on the left could easily be a cashmere over a brocade waist and underskirt. For the dress on the left, the bodice and overskirt appear to be a faille over a brocade underskirt; the brocade on the underskirt is also a plastron on the bodice.
From the above, it is evident that the underskirt on each dress is of a more elaborate material than the overskirts which are much more plain and especially the dress on the left. Here we also see that the dress on the left also follows Worth’s dictum that the waist matches the underskirt.
Here is another plate:
Once again, we see the use of the same fabric for the bodice and the overskirt.and a contrasting fabric for the underskirt and waist (where applicable). One also sees some variation in fabric use for lapels and sleeve cuffs- The either match in their own color/fabric (often velvet) or take the color from the underskirt.
Here once again, we see the same style in the dress on the right. However, on the left we see a dress that utilizes long stripes of pleated fabric against larger panels of a contrasting fabric. The stripe effect is carried over to the sleeves and the front of the bodice.
And now for one final example:
For the woman on the right, we see a plain bodice and overskirt combined with a plaid. As with the other examples above, the overskirts are taken up on the sides so the more elaborate (i.e., rich) fabric of the underskirt is more visible.
The above is just a small sampling but we hope it gives an idea of what was trending for early 1887, as least as far as Paris goes. At the same time, we also see plenty of examples of dresses of all one color or with a contrast color restricted to just the cuffs or collar and cuffs. Also, a dress could be of a single color with varying fabric types found in the bodice, overskirt, and underskirt.