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. 🙂