Stepping Back To 1878…

And for a change of pace, we step back a few decades to circa 1878 with this wonderful Mid-Bustle Era/Natural Form day dress that’s identified as a wedding dress1This dress is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection and on their web site, the dress as identified as a “Wedding Ensemble”, https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/156665. Unfortunately, they don’t provide any information on how they arrived at that conclusion so this has to be taken with a grain of salt.:

Wedding dress, c. 1878; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.18a, b)

Wedding dress, c. 1878; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.18a, b)

Below is a nice close-up showing details of the fashion fabric and some of the details.

Side Profile

This dress is constructed of an embroidered wine colored stripped silk satin for the overskirt and bodice combined with a purple silk satin for the underskirt, bodice front and cuffs. Finally around the cuffs, there’s a think band of the purple silk sating that’s been pleated and finished off with white lace. In terms of silhouette, this one is cylindrical, characteristic of the Mid-Bustle Era and has no train. The bodice is a cuirass style, falling over the hips. The decorate effect on the underskirt hem is interesting, employing a combination of pleating, ruching, and use of the stripped fashion fabric in the form of vertical tabs running along the upper hem.

Now, as for the dress being a wedding dress, this is a very possible. Unfortunately, there’s no documentation posted online at the Met Museum website and we can only assume that there is documentation but that it didn’t make it online for reasons unknown. But nevertheless, this dress could have been used as a wedding dress in that during the late Nineteenth Century, the use of white as THE wedding dress color was not a rigid convention; a wedding dress was often a bride’s best dress and was meant for wear long after the wedding. Moreover, the idea that one would have a specific dress to be worn only on the wedding day and then put away was also not the norm and in fact, was simply not feasible for most people, not to mention that it was viewed as wasteful. The idea of the one-use wedding dress would start to develop towards the end of the Nineteenth Century but only by the very rich.2For a more complete discussion of wedding dresses, check these posts HERE, HERE, and HERE. Ultimately, this dress presents a classic late 1870s/early 1880s day look and works for a variety of social occasions. 🙂

And Something New From Maison Worth…

The output of Maison Worth seems to be a never-ending cornucopia of fashion delights and today is no exception with this Afternoon dress that was created by the Maison in the early 1890s:

Above is a view of the dress on display as part of a show commemorating the donation of a number of garments to the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Unfortunately, the dress is no longer display and is in storage.

Worth, Afternoon Dress, c. 1890; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2015.688.a-b) Purchased with funds donated by Mrs Krystyna Campbell-Pretty in memory of Mr Harold Campbell-Pretty, 2015
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of possibAGL Shaw AO Bequest

This dress is constructed from a combination of dark orange silk satin and dark orange patterned velvet ( possibly burnt out but it’s hard to tell). The inner skirt is constructed of the velvet fabric, trimmed with floral appliques while the outer skirt is the silk satin. The bodice is constructed to mimic an open vest and under-bodice, the under-bodice constructed of the same dark orange silk satin and the “vest” constructed of the dark orange patterned velvet. The sleeves are also made from the same velvet and the bodice front and cuffs is decorated in the same floral appliques as is the skirt. Overall, it’s a well thought out package and it hits all the right notes of elegance with a pleasing color scheme- this definitely reads “fall colors” although Victorians tended to not adhere to the seasons when it came to color.

For the silhouette, it’s hard to get a good read on it since we only have frontal photos to go on but it’s probably that this dates from the early 1890s, possibly 1889 or so and it appears that the dress has some fullness that’s been trained to the rear. We hope you’ve enjoyed this interesting example of Maison Worth’s craft- they didn’t just make elegant evening and ball gowns. 🙂