Some Mid-1880s Day Dress Style

When it comes to later 19th Century fashion, certain dresses are remarkable either because of their cut and silhouette, colors, or fabrics. Today we present this circa 1885 day dress that combines all of these elements:

Day Dress, c. 1885; Five Colleges and Historic Deerfield Museum Consortium (HD V.114)

In terms of silhouette, this dress follows a fairly typical mid-1880s style and there’s no surprises there but when we turn to the fashion fabric itself, it’s a completely different matter with wide vertical stripes combined with narrow stripes, all in the same  shade of purple.

The fashion fabric consists of a combination of wide vertical and narrow horizontal purple stripes over a dark ivory background.

And just for comparison, here’s are two examples of what was more the norm for striped dresses of the period:

Day Dress, c. 1880; The Museum at FIT (P92.21.1)

Day Dress, c. 1880s; From the collection of Alexandre Vassiliev

In contrast to the purple striped day dress, the above examples are all constructed of striped fashion fabrics, the stripes of different colors. While combining horizontal and vertical stripes was not unknown during the late 19th Century fabrics, it usually involved combinations of different colors. Let’s take a closer look at the dress details:

Upon closer examination, we see that the fashion fabric appears to be a faille- Bengaline, or perhaps a Fouillard, and that the the light areas between the stripes is a variegated ivory and black. Also, it’s interesting to note that the horizontal purple stripes are of a slightly darker shade of purple and that each “stripe” is actually three rows of pin-striping. When viewed at a distance, these pin-stripes merge in one strip.

And here’s a very tight close-up of the dress fabric. Note the cross-wise horizontal rib characteristic of a faille/Bengaline. Judging from the luster and drape, we estimate that this is a silk Bengaline or perhaps cotton and silk- it’s hard to say without further analysis. It’s also interesting that the horizontal stripes are not all one color but rather appear to have rows of a lighter ivory (?) alternating with the purple rows.

Some may find this dress to be visually jarring and that we our initial reaction. However, upon closer examination, we found that it contained some subtle nuances such as with the variegated ivory/black background and the three pin-striped horizontal stripes. Also, the fabric weave further enhances the stripe style.  This dress is certainly an interesting style that amply demonstrates that style is found in the details. 🙂



Moving Forward Into Spring

Marie Bracquemond, “Woman with Parasol,” 1880

The Natural Form or Mid-Bustle Era often features in Impressionist art, often evoking images of springtime. Today we feature an interesting late 1870s/early 1880s day dress from the Fashion Museum Bath:

Day Dress, c. 1878-1881; Fashion Museum Bath

This dress is constructed of a light blue and ivory striped silk brocade with a floral motif. The fashion fabric has been artfully cut so as the bodice features an ivory inset framed by the outer layer in blue. At the same time, the skirt features horizontal stripes of the ivory and blue fashion fabric, all artfully arranged so that the stripes are in the form of swags accented with bows in the front. The bodice sleeves and hem are a solid-colored silk moire that matches the blue of the fashion fabric. The train, from what we can discern, appears to be a darker shade of blue that harmonizes with the lighter blue and ivory. It also appears to be a silk moire. Finally, the neckline and cuffs are trimmed in an ivory lace. Below is a close-up of the bodice front:

As common with many bodices of the era, it was designed so as to give the look of a semi-open robe. From this view, it would appear that the dress is perhaps of one-piece construction with the bodice section being front-opening, which was often found with dresses of this era. However, without a more thorough examination, it’s hard to tell for sure.  Perhaps one day we’ll have an opportunity to view this dress in person, there’s so many questions… 🙂

 

 



Mid-1870s Afternoon Dress Style

Yesterday we took a look at a mid-1870s afternoon dress from Worth. Today we take a look at another afternoon dress from circa 1874-1875 that offers a bit of a contrast:

Afternoon Dress, c. 1874-1875; Metropolitan museum of Art (1979.367.1a, b)

The bodice and skirt are  constructed of what appears to be a light brown silk taffeta combined with a jacquard (more on that below). Turning to the bodice, the body is made of the brocade while the sleeves are made of the light brown taffeta. The rear of the bodice also features jacquard tails that extend over the top of the train/bustle. The cuffs are trimmed with the jacquard and ivory lace (the lace is missing from the left cuff).  The fabrics on the front of the skirt have been shaped so as to create two layers consisting of the jacquard on top of the light brown taffeta, scalloped at the bottom and lying over a base layer of the same light brown taffeta. Decorating the center of the front opening are a series of knots trimmed with the jacquard  and the hem has a row of knife pleating.

As can be seen from the profile view above, the skirt is made of two layers, the inner one extending to the ground with the train consisting of the brocade and the front consisting of jacquard panels covering the light brown taffeta. The outer layer extends down from the waist and over the hips, extending down about one third of the way down consisting primarily of the light brown fabric trimmed with large knots.

In terms of silhouette, this dress reads mid-1870s. Compared to the the 1870-1872 time frame, the train is more tidy and restrained.  Below is a close-up of the cuffs:

The slashing is an interesting decorative touch. Below is are three-quarter and direct rear views of the dress with the bodice and its tails draped over the skirt.

And for a close-up of the jacquard…

By this time you must be wondering just what the jacquard fashion fabric looks like up close- well, you’re in luck:

From the picture, it would appear that the patterned fashion fabric is jacquard- possibly a cotton or cotton/silk blend- and it certainly reads like a tapestry. What’s interesting is that from a distance, the brocade almost appears to be dark gold and gives the dress a richness that contrasts with the light brown taffeta. Compared to the design from Worth we looked at yesterday, this is far more dramatic yet it’s also clumsy, at least in the way the decorative knots are used- they appear to have been somewhat of an afterthought and especially on the sides. But, no matter what we may think, this is still an interesting example of mid-1870s style and especially in the way two contrasting fabrics are manipulated to create something that’s more than the sum of its parts.



Back To The 70s At Maison Worth

Today we take a trip back to the 70s…the 1870s, that is, and more specifically circa 1874 with this afternoon dress from Worth:

Worth, Afternoon Dress, c. 1874; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1975.259.2a, b)

This afternoon dress utilizes the two-color combination style that was typical of early to mid-1870s dresses, consisting of black silk taffeta bodice and outer skirt combined with a pale green/mint green silk taffeta underskirt. What is interesting here is that the bodice and skirts have been cut so as to give the effect of a long robe that opens wide to dramatically reveal the green underskirt. Also, while it’s not easy to make out, the bodice is designed with an underlayer of the same green color- it’s hard to say if it’s a faux vest or simply an inset underlayer. Finally, the neck and front outer bodice edges and cuffs are trimmed with ivory lace. Below is a close-up of the bodice:

The silhouette is fairly standard for the early to mid-1870s and its lines are pretty clean, especially when compared to many 1870s day/afternoon dresses. Note that both sides of the outer skirt are piped with the light green fabric.

The bodice back has a set of carefully sculpted tails that serve to emphasize the train and each tail is emphasized with an outline of the green fabric (which also appears to be the lining color for the tails). Below is a close-up:

Below are some more detailed views of the skirts. It’s interesting that the “outer” and “inner” skirts are really one unit:

Finally, below is a view of the detail where the outer and inner skirts meet:

Compared to many of Worth’s designs, this one is relatively simple emphasizing clean lines with a minimum of trim. In many respects it almost reads “tea gown” although it’s far more substantial and was clearly intended for wear out in public. We’ll have some more interesting 1870s dress styles to show you in the near future so stay tuned! 🙂



Lily Absinthe Takes A Look At Chartreuse

Color is one of the basic building blocks in fashion design and we are constantly on the lookout for colors that will enhance the overall aesthetics of our designs. In the course of researching some dresses, we came across a dress that utilizes chartreuse, ochre/gold, and green for dramatic effect and we thought that we would share it with you:  🙂

Day Dress 1870s

Day Dress, c. Early 1870s; Centre de Documentació i Museu Tèxtil, Barcelona, Spain (11899)

Day Dress 1870s

Frontal Close-Up

The chartreuse base fabric appears to be a faille and the trim is a combination of yellow ochre and light green/chartreuse (it’s hard to tell exactly from the picture).

Day Dress 1870s

Side Profile

Day Dress 1870s

Rear View; Unfortunately, the skirt is discolored, most likely from poor storage at some point.

And here are some more details:

The basic fashion fabric is what appears to be a chartreuse-colored silk faille with the bodice and skirt front trimmed in yellow ochre and light green; the hem is trimmed in four rows of knife pleating. Also, the hem guard appears to be in green that matches the trim (you can see the hem guard peeking out from beneath the bottom row of knife pleating.

Finally, here’s a rough color palette:

 Pallette2

The above is merely one of many different design schemes possible but it’s definitely one on our list. :-).