Princess line dresses have always been a source of fascination for us, especially since they represented a dramatic break from the previous style characteristic of the early 1870s. Here’s one interesting example, circa 1874-1879 from the National Museum of Scotland that we recently came across while searching for something completely different:
This dress is made from a combination of violet silk taffeta and a dark blue silk velvet. The dress and bodice back and front are made from the lighter violet silk taffeta while the dark blue velvet sleeves, collar, and bodice front panel provide a contrast in both luster and texture. Wide bands of the same velvet also run across the dress front in swags and along the hem and the top of the demi-train. In terms of silhouette, the dress is firmly in the Mid Bustle Era with its cylindrical style and moderate train at the top widening out into a demi-train at the bottom. Finishing the look is a row of cut steel buttons running down the front. And now for some side profile views:
In the above picture, there’s a better view of the demi-train and one can see the row of knife pleating running along the hem of the train as well as the cuffs. On the dress itself, the pleating is larger and wider. In terms of function, this was a more formal train with its demi-train and was probably an afternoon or reception dress meant for daytime wear.
This dress is a wonderful example of various design elements characteristic of the era to include contrasting textures and luster in fabric selection and the use of analogous colors, combined with draping and pleating. This dress hits all the high points and is definitely a source of inspiration for any recreation efforts.