Trending For Christmas & New Years…1878

The late 1870s has always been a source of fascination for us and recently, we came across some interesting fashion plates published by The Young Ladies Journal dating from that period. To us, it’s simply amazing that wide variety of styles and colors that were available as depicted in this fashion plate:

The Young Ladies Journal, Christmas & New Years, 1878

What we find especially interesting is that there seemingly was no set “holiday color palette” like one sees today. What’s also interesting is that colors range from the jewel tones to pale pastels (something normally associated with the spring and summer months). Now, making allowances for artistic license in regard to colors, the styles themselves are still even considered on their own. And no surprise, the various pleatings and ruffles all serve to emphasize the cylindrical silhouette characteristic of this period.

So just in case you’re lacking in holiday inspiration, this should help.  🙂

More on Mantles…

Just a little update on just one of several mantle designs currently under development. This particular mantle has been constructed from an original period pattern that we have modified somewhat for sizing and fit. Our prototype features a semi-rigid sleeve design (no overhead lifting with this mantle!) with an extreme pointed elbow and a winged mandarin collar (which can be modified into a number of different styles). The fabric we’re using is a rich brocade with a metallic gold design. Here are a few more pictures to add to our previous post:

Above are front and back views. The patterns on the fashion fabric were fairly easy to match up.

Side profile of the sleeves. Here’s some close-ups of the collar:

We’re planning on offering this in a variety of fabrics with several collar variants. Stay tuned for more! 🙂


The Princess Line, Redux

Our previous post on the Mid-Bustle Period, and the princess line dress in particular got such a favorable response that we decided to follow up on with some more examples.

Le Moniteur De La Mode, 1876

One of the dramatic and interesting styles is the one above utilizing an open redingote combined with an underskirt in two complementary colors and contrasting ruffles. The train also employs several layers of the same complementary colors. Also, the use of revers is taken to an extreme, especially towards the bottom when the revers open out to create the illusion of turn-backs. Overall, the effect is very reminiscent of the 1780s and 90s, an era something that often influences mid-1870s styles.

Le Moniteur De La Mode, 1878

This style is a bit more “conventional” in that it stays with one color, taking its decorative effect from the various ruffles, pleating, and trim. Also, while it’s impossible to tell just what the illustrator had in mind with the fashion fabric, one could easily imagine silk brocade or similar.  🙂

The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, June 1878

Here we see a couple variations with the trains with various degrees of pleating, bows, and contrast colors. In many respects, the only limits are one’s imagination. Also, it must be noted that the illustrator has used a bit of artistic license portraying two ladies’ dressed with trains that are clearly not optimal for trekking through the woods. 🙂

Looking past the sheer beauty of these designs (and making allowances for the fact that these are fashion plates), one can see that there’s a few different design options here when recreating this style. First is the train- trains varied in length ranging from a full train for the most formal of occasions to the demi-train which was pretty standard for the majority of formal occasions (and a lot more practical to maneuver in). For day wear, the train was either short or non-existent. Moreover, with the train, one could choose to leave it relatively unadorned, with maybe a small row of knife-pleating or one could go all out, adding rows of pleating, ribbons, and other lace trim.

Turning to the overall style, while upright sculpted silhouette set the basic shape, one  sees a variety of variations to include a straight skirt all the way to the feet or the skirt is draped and gathered towards the bottom. Also, the entire dress could be styled as an open redingote with revers that opens up to reveal an underskirt that could be in a complementary color with ruching or a similar style. This style could also be done in either a single color or with complementary colors. In short, there was a wide variety of style choices available and designers/dressmakers/individual sewers utilized them all. Below are a few original dresses that help illustrate this point:

Day Dress, Swiss, 1880; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.55.40.5)

With the above dress, we see a simple arrangement of shapes and lines in blue and ivory  combined with contrasts in the fabrics’ textures as well as the use of ruching.

Day Dress, Princess Line, c. 1878; National Museum, Prague (H2-193316)

With this dress, we see the fashion fabrics have similar textures but with contrasting steel gray and ivory. Pleating and trim are kept to a minimum and the style relies more on colors and fabrics to make its statement.

For this dress, while it utilizes complementary colors, it relies more on contrasts in textures: the ruching and pleating on the dress’s front panel are combined with a silk brocade covered by netting.

Afternoon Dress, c. 1878-1880; Manchester Art Gallery ( 1947.4118)

Rear View

This final example utilizes two fashion fabrics in complementary colors combined with contrasting fabric textures: a pale blue flat textured silk combined with a lighter blue silk satin. To further add interest, floral embroidery has been added to the bodice front and train. Also, while the bodice has a fairly simple shape, the lower skirt incorporates a series of ruffles and pleats to give a draped appearance.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief excursion through the the world of the Mid-Bustle Era princess line dress and we want to emphasize that while we may have deluged you with a wide a variety of style variations, our intent was to show that one has a wide range of choices when it comes to recreating this style and perhaps provide a bit of inspiration. 🙂


In Development…Mantles!

With the coming of Winter, our thoughts have turned to outerwear and specifically, mantles and dolmans. We are in the process of developing several designs to include this one that’s been adapted from an 1889 pattern:

The front.

The rear view- working with this fabric was not easy and required some work to get the fabric pattern to properly match us, especially since the back seam is not flat.

Detail of the collar. Although this one is meant as a winged Mandarin collar, other styles can also be utilized.

Stay tuned for further developments! 🙂

Christmas Came Early…. Adding To The Collection

Christmas came a bit early for us this year- yesterday we received a number of original garments from several auctions and right now, we’re in the process of sorting through them. Below is just a small glimpse of the treasures we received; when we get everything sorted out, we’ll be posting more. 🙂

This is a bodice that we date to circa 1878-1880. The bodice is relatively narrow with an inset pseudo vest that closes with hooks and eyes. The outside bodice closed with laces and each edge is bones, just beyond the eyelets. The boning is roughly 1/2 inch across and we believe that the boning is thin baleen.

Upon closer examination, the bodice is constructed from what appears to be an ivory silk brocade covered by a thin lace net that appears to have yellowed over the years.

Below is an interior view of the bodice, it’s lines with in a light yellow cotton (it doesn’t appear to have been white that’s yellowed) and the seam finish is very precise.

Overall, this is a very interesting study piece. It’s condition is fairly good although the silk fashion fabric has shattered in a number of places, especially where it’s not directly supported by the lining. This will make an interesting addition to our study collection.