An Interesting 1890s Day Dress…

Lately, the 1890s have been an area of focus for us and it seems that never a day passes when we don’t discover something unique and interesting. Today we feature a day dress that was made in 1892 (or close thereabouts):

Day Dress 1892

Day Dress, c. 1892; University of New Hampshire Library 157a,b)

Day Dress 1892

What  immediately caught our eye was the near-florescent colors of the base fashion fabric and the trim. The fashion fabric appears to be a dark blue velvet trimmed with a combination of the dark and  light blues and salmon red . In terms of silhouette, appears to be more early 1890s where the leg-of-mutton sleeve are prominent but haven’t reached the out-sized proportions later seen by 1895. Also, the dress “bodice” appears to be a jacket and waistcoat style although in reality, it’s probably just a one-piece construction. Here’a close-up of the bodice:

Day Dress 1892

What is interesting is that the colors are in excellent condition, given the age of the dress and the luster is amazing. Granted that lighting and camera angle can alter a garment’s visual appearance but it’s still amazing.  Here are some close-up views of the trim:

The trim is especially interesting and especially towards the bottom where one can see grape-like bead clusters that give an effect is that of garden vines. Below are a couple of views of the skirt design:

The pictures do not give justice to this dress and it’s difficult to determine the specific construction. For the skirt, below is a full description from the University of New Hampshire Textile Library website:

The skirt has the effect of multiple layers but with just one waistband. A six-gored foundation skirt of blue silk is smooth-fitting in front and pleated at the hips and back, and is slightly longer in back than in front. Over this, four panels of the voided velvet hang from the waist to nearly the floor, free-floating except for a few tacking stitches to keep them from flopping over and with dark red silk facings just wide enough to cover the inside edges.

The panels are wide enough to show three of the voided pattern bands each, and at the bottom of each band is a grape-like cluster of silk-wrapped and crocheted balls in graduating sizes, left free to dangle. The two front panels are sewn together but have the same decorative buttons and loops as the bodice. Beneath the panels, more blue velvet is sewn to the foundation layer in flat panels and box pleats to make it appear that there is an entire underskirt of velvet. In back, a 96.5 cm/38 in. wide panel of floor-length blue velvet, partially sewn in at its sides, is cartridge pleated to a short band and hooks to the waistband to cover the center-back opening of the foundation skirt and provide fullness. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.

The construction details are fascinating and we wish that we were able to examine this dress in person- one can only go so far from pictures alone. We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief view of a fascinating early 1890s day dress. Stay tuned for more!

Liked it? Take a second to support Lily Absinthe on Patreon!

Leave a Reply