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. 🙂

 

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.

The Early Teens Walking Suit- A Brief Look

 

The walking suit represented a major step in the evolution of women’s wear during the late 19th and early 20 Centuries. Starting in the early 1890s, the walking suit was considered an essential part of a woman’s wardrobe and by the Teens, it occupied a prominent place in fashion. Style details, construction, and fabric varied depending on price point but the objective was always the same- a outfit that a woman could wear out in public that was practical yet stylish. In response to the growing popularity of walking suits, clothing manufacturers produced walking suits in a variety of fabrics, colors and styles. Walking suits became to widespread that even the major couturiers couldn’t ignore it.

Walking Suit 1910

Walking Suit, 1910

In response, couturiers began to offer an ever-expanding line of practical day wear of which the walking suit was a key element and each couturier put their own twist on the basic design as with this walking suit by Paquin:

Fb104684.jpg

Paquin, Walking Suit, 1912; National Gallery of Victoria (2015.670.a-b)[National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased with funds donated by Mrs Krystyna Campbell-Pretty in memory of Mr Harold Campbell-Pretty, 2015 © Paquin]

The above example illustrates one jacket style was designed to give the effect of a robe or kimono; naturally, this effect tended to work better with a lighter fabric such as a linen.  Here’s another one from Maison Worth:

Walking Suit Worth c. 1913

Worth, Walking Suit, c. 1913; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1980.16.3a, b)

Jackets also followed more conventional styles such as with this one:

Paquin Walking Suit 1910 Front

Jeanne Paquin, Walking Suit, Spring/Summer 1910; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.474a–d)

The walking suit below from Redfern features a more tailored jacket (which would come as no surprise given Redfern’s background):

c. 1911 Walking Suit Redfern

Redfern, Walking Suit, c. 1911; V&A Museum (T.28&A-1960)

c. 1911 Walking Suit Redfern

Three-quarter rear profile.

And jackets could also have more of a greatcoat style:

Walking Suit Redfern c. 1910

Redfern, Walking Suit, c. 1910; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.107a, b)

And just to round things off, here are a few from unknown makers:

Walking Suit c. 1912

Walking Suit, c. 1912; McCord Museum (M976.35.2.1-2)

Walking Suit c. 1912

And here’s one from 1915:

Walking Suit 1915

Walking Suit, 1915; McCord Museum (M983.130.3.1-3)

Walking Suit 1915

And sometimes, it was hard to tell where “suit” left off and “dress” began…here’s an example from 1911:

Walking Suit 1911

Walking Suit, 1911; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1976.290.7a–c)

The above examples are only a small fraction of what was out there but it’s clear that the walking suit had arrived as a major wardrobe item. We hope that this will serve as a source of inspiration for those looking to recreate the day wear of the early Teens. And finally, just to tie this into something more contemporary, consider this:

Boarding Dress3 Titanic Movie Walking Suit

Enjoy! 🙂

Another Take On Wedding Gowns…

In contrast to today, the term “wedding gown” was far more flexible in the late 19th Century than it is today. When we think of a wedding gown, we invariably think of some sort of dress that’s in some shade of white or ivory that’s only worn once on the wedding day and then stored away forever, unless a descendant chooses to wear the dress for their wedding. However, in recent scholarship, it’s been noted that the concept of the “white wedding” with its one-use wedding gown is a fairly recent development, as much a product of merchandising as social convention.

As discussed in a previous post, during the late 19th Century, a wedding dress was typically a woman’s “best dress,” often enhanced by netting, lace, and flowers (especially orange blossoms). The dress was definitely meant to be worn long after the wedding and in fact, the idea of having a dress for that’s only worn once and then stored away forever was considered the height of wastefulness. With that said, here’s just one example of what a wedding dress could be, at least if we accept the Walsall Museums’ description:

Day Dress c. 1885

Day Dress, c. 1885; Walsall Museums (WASMG : 1976.0832)

Day Dress c. 1885

Side Profile

Unfortunately the photography is not the best…style-wise this is mid-1880s with a defined train/bustle and is constructed from a silver-gray silk satin for the overskirt and bodice combined with a silk brocade floral pattern for the underskirt, under bodice and sleeve cuffs. The bodice is constructed to create the effect of a jacket over a vest (although these were usually made as a single unit) and the red flowers on the silk brocade provide pops of red that add richness and variety to what would otherwise be a somewhat dull monochromatic silver-gray dress.

Day Dress c. 1885

Close-up of front bodice.

And here’s a nice close-up of the silk brocade fabric:

Day Dress c. 1885

Close-up of fashion fabric.

Here’s a couple of more pictures (although the color is a bit off):

Day Dress c. 1885

Three-Quarter rear view.

Day Dress c. 1885

The red flowers on the silk brocade panels definitely draws the eye up and fixes the viewer’s eyes (As should be the case with all bridal dresses!). Of course, as with much of fashion history, there’s rarely any absolutes and this was the case with using “regular” colors versus the more bridal colors of white and ivory during the 1880s. However, in the end, it’s important to realize that the dividing lines between “bridal” and non-bridal were not as rigid was we tend to view them today (although that’s changing). This was just a brief glimpse into the world of bridal dresses during the 1880s and that there are alternatives to the “traditional” when it comes to bridal dresses. 🙂

Something Plum From The 1880s…

Plum has always been one of our favorite colors and even more so as we move into Fall. Recently, we came across this wonderful c. 1883 1889 day dress in the collection of the Goldstein Museum of Design and we just couldn’t resist sharing it with the rest of you: 🙂

Day Dress c. 1883 - 1889

Day Dress, c. 1883 – 1889; Goldstein Museum of Design (1963.007.002a-b)

Day Dress c. 1883 - 1889

Three-quarter frontal view.

Day Dress c. 1883 - 1889

Rear View

Day Dress c. 1883 - 1889

Three-quarter rear view.

Style-wise, this is a classic 1880s day dress with three-quarter sleeves and distinct over/underskirts. There doesn’t appear to be much of  a bustle effect (but this is probably due to the museum’s staging). What’s striking about this dress is its use of a solid dark plum color underskirt combined with a silk brocade overskirt and bodice. Also, the trim on the bodice is fairly minimal while we see extensive ruching and layers of pleating for the underskirt.

Here’s a close-up of the silk brocade fashion fabric on the bodice back; the pattern is suggestive of chinoiserie:

Day Dress c. 1883 - 1889

Close-up of bodice back.

And here’s part of the underskirt with its extensive ruching:

Day Dress c. 1883 - 1889

Close-up of overskirt.

Here’s a close-up of the bodice front which utilizes a jacketed/under-vest effect with facing lapels. It’s interesting but attempt but it strikes us as a bit disorganized- it’s attempting to meld typical design elements of the period but in a clumsy manner. Also, the fringe appears to be an afterthought and does little to add to the overall design effect. C’est la vie….

Day Dress c. 1883 - 1889

Close-up of front bodice.

On the other hand, the middle back is neatly done and the train appears tidy in comparison with the bodice front:

Day Dress c. 1883 - 1889

Close-up of rear.

Plum and its shades and tints have always been favorites with us and are always a source of inspiration for many of our designs. When combined with utilizing fabrics with varying degrees of luster, patterns, and textures, the results are phenomenal and offer a high degree of individuality. Let it inspire you as it’s inspired us. 🙂