As a follow-up to our previous post on harmonizing colors, we offer some more thoughts on the subject of color and Victorian style. Generally speaking, dresses could take one of two basic forms when it came to color: all one solid color (i.e. monochromatic) or combinations of two or more colors. The concept of the one-color dresses is pretty straight-forward:
But the use of a single color could also take the form of a patterned fabric:
Day dresses were more likely to be found in one color than ball gowns and evening dresses but in either case, using one color tended to give a somewhat flat look to the the dress so often lace trim, patterned material such as embroidery, or some other decorative effect was utilized to counter this. Below are several examples of this:
Lace was often employed to add dimension and depth:
In some cases, dresses employed a combination of plain and patterned fabrics, all in the same basic color such as with this dress:
More common in dresses was the use of a combination of colors which usually took the form of different colored fabrics for the under and over skirts or the bodice and hem:
Often, stripes and/or patterns were also employed in the color combination:
Here’s a couple examples of more complex use of color combinations. In the dress on the left, solid light and dark blue are combined with a patterned fabric that’s also predominantly blue. On the right, red with floral embroidery is combined with solid colored white/ivory lace.
In this example below, a solid black underskirt is combined with a bodice/overskirt of dark green striped black silk with floral appliques. Black beading and feathers further accentuate the color combination:
Outer garments could also provide an added element to the color combination as with the figure on the left with a wine/burgundy-colored mantle with celadon trim that matched the solid celadon-colored dress. The figure on the right demonstrates a combination of ivory-colored lace and solid pink:
Color combinations could even take the forms of stripes and patterns:
And probably one of the most dramatic uses of two colors can be found with this ball gown that utilizes just stripes:
Pops of color could also be used as part of a color combination. In the example below, an ivory-colored front under bodice and center underskirt grabs the eye:
And on a larger scale, the use of the red as a color pop goes a long way towards making this evening dress an eye-catcher:
The above illustrations gives only a small hint at the combinations and methods that were employed in utilizing color and it’s clear that while pure colors (e.g., one colored fabric with another) could be employed in combination, the combination could also take the form of striped or patterned fabrics, lace, and/or other trims in various colors. More importantly, it’s not just about layer colors, but it’s about layering colors in varying textures and luster to create a garment that projects depth and ultimately a life of its own.