The Late Bustle Era/1880s Silhouette

With all our recent discussion of 1880s styles, here’s an excellent illustration of the Late Bustle Era silhouette that we recently came across. Moreover, it’s also an interesting example of the use of texture in fabric selection- a tomato red silk overskirt and bodice combined with a darker red silk velvet underskirt that provides a harmonious contrast.

Day Dress, c. 1887; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.68.53.6a, b)

This dress was clearly a day dress and could easily fulfil the role of visiting or afternoon dress. It was clearly a dress meant to be seen in public.


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And Now For Some Mid-1890s Style

1890s style is definitely a thing with us and today we present you this circa 1895 evening dress:

Rouff, Evening Dress; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.6477a, b)

The color and texture combination of this dress are a very harmonious combination of an olive velvet bodice combined with a black silk satin skirt and bodice front panels. To finish the style, there’s gold embroidery and fringe which serve to offset the black skirt and front bodice.  Although there’s only one picture of the dress, it does appear that there’s a separate bodice and skirt and the skirt appears to be have been made from the black silk satin fabric; the gold embroidery is a floral design that’s rectangular, running down each side of the front part of the skirt and then running along the skirt bottom, above the hem. It’s too bad that there’s no pictures of the dress from the back or sides.

Close-up of trim detail.

Above is a close-up view of the bottom skirt front and the gold embroidery can be clearly seen. Also, one can also see that black beaded appliques were also used as part of the floral pattern design. In terms of style, the wide neck line and low shoulders  suggest an evening dress style but this style would also work as a reception dress. It’s a fascinating dress and we only wish that there were some more pictures available- there’s a lot of details that are obscured. But, nevertheless, this is another source of dress inspiration, especially with the large leg-of-mutton sleeves.


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And Now For Some Late 1880s Dress Style

Today we move towards the end of the 1880s with this circa 1889 day dress from the Met:

Day Dress, c. 1888-1889; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.41.15.2a, b)

This dress consists of redingote bodice constructed from a dark jewel tone blue colored silk duchess (of at least it appears that way from what can tell from the photos) combined with a skirt of the same color in a silk jacquard with a floral pattern. The underbodice appears to be a multi-colored patterned, perhaps a wool or silk-wool challis, that serves as a dramatic color pop set against the dark blue background. Also, if you look closely at the underbodice, it’s been style so that hangs in a swag on the wearer’s left side ending in a fringed tail. It’s interesting to see this combined with the redingote style bodice.

This rear view provides a better view of the long tails of the redingote bodice combined with the skirt and train. While it’s got a train, it’s somewhat restrained and hints at skirt styles of the 1890s.

This close-up of the front upper bodice gives a good view of the underbodice. The outer bodice has been cut to show off the underbodice color to the best advantage. This dress is just one interesting variation of the “Redingote” style that was trending in the late 1880s and early 1890s and to us, it’s another source of inspiration for a recreated period dress style- stay tuned for more on this in the future.


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More 1880s Day Wear Style

Looking for ideas for recreating early 1880s daywear? Well, here’s one interesting source of inspiration- a circa 1882-1883 day dress from the Met 😃:

Day Dress, c. 1882-1883; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.41.38.1a, b)

This day dress combines a purple with gold silk brocade floral pattern bodice and overskirt with a purple-colored silk underskirt a rich color palette. The purple is deep, leaning towards jewel tones and the gold brocade provides a dramatic bright contrast.

As can be seen, the dress silhouette reads early 1880s and features a moderate train/bustle arrangement. The gold overskirt/apron and bodice attract the eye and lead it up to the wearer’s face- this one’s both elegant and understated at the same time.

Above provides a good view of the bodice and the contrast between it and the skirt- the combination is both contrasting and harmonious at the same time.

The above close up of the upper front bodice shows an inset of ruched purple silk and it appears to open from the front, judging from the evident hooks and eyes. This dress could easily fit in on the series The Gilded Age and it something we’d expect a member of the conservative van Rhijn family to wear. Let this serve to inspire! 😁


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A Mid-Bustle Era Dress

Gray is a color that works for a variety of fashions and especially when it comes to daywear. Here is just example that every effectively combines complementary shades of gray (we kind of cringe using that phrase… 😄 ), made by a one Amedée Françoise (unfortunately, we were unable to find anything in English about this Couturiere):

Day Dress 1880

Day Dress, c. 1880; Metropolitan Museum of Art (43.72.2a–c)

Day Dress 1880

Side Profile

As can be seen from these pictures, this dress combines a solid dark gray silk underskirt with an embroidered patterned silk bodice and train. The patterned bodice fabric has a darker gray background and while this would simply serve to darken the entire dress, this fabric actually has the opposite effect partly because of the fabric’s luster and the white and lavender embroidered pattern.

Day Dress 1880 - Rear

Left Three Quarter Rear View

Style-wise, this dress is firmly in the Mid-Bustle Era, 1880 to be precise, and as such it’s characterized by having a cylindrical profile, low demi-train, and defined balayeuse. Moreover, the bodice is reminiscent of an 18th Century coat with cutaway lapels.

Day Dress 1880

Rear View

Except for the the band of tassels running along the hem, the skirt is unadorned with a smooth back and three rows of knife pleating on the front. Interestingly enough, the train appears to be composed of two different shades of gray silk fabric; the darker gray makes up the majority of skirt while the lighter shade is seen peeking out at the bottom where the skirt and train begin. Although it’s hard to tell from the available pictures, we would be inclined to say that this appears to be a minimal underskirt. Also, this light gray matches the trim. Finally, the bodice is also relatively unadorned except for fringe and tassels running along the edges. Below are some close up views that better illustrate the contrasts in the two base fabrics:

Sleeve Detail

Detail View Of Button

Detail View Of Fabric

Label – Amedee Francois

This dress utilizes a masterful combination of grays to achieve an effect that is both understated and elegant at the same time; with this this dress, the fabrics and cut do all the talking. 🙂


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