Gigot, or leg-of-mutton, sleeves was one the key defining elements in Mid-1890s style. Often taken to extravagant lengths, it’s a style element that dominated any dress whether for good or ill. When used judiciously and balanced against other style elements in a dress, the effect could be amazing. However, done wrong, the result could be atrocious to the point where the wearer of the dress’ face disappears in a sea of poufy fabric. Below is an example when it’s done right as with this 1895 house dress/tea gown Laboudt & Robina1One could argue that this dress is either a tea gown or a house dress and either would fit, in our opinion.:
This garment is constructed from a dark blue silk velvet combined with a lighter blue patterned silk taffeta or bengaline for the sleeves and the edges of a front inset panel. The inset panel appears to be an silk embroidered decorative motif consisting of bunches of flowers set against an ivory silk satin. The patterned fabric on the sleeves and garment front consist of large swirls of black and yellow and draw attention to the sleeves in an aesthetically pleasing manner. In terms of silhouette, the garment features a fitted waist and is clearly intended for wear with a corset and is designed to mimic a robe. While it could be argued as to whether this is a fancy house dress or a formal tea gown, either way it was intended as more of an at-home dress. Below is a close-up of the decorative front trim:
While it may seem to be a bit of a reach, the blue patterned silk reminds us of the night sky in this painting The Starry Night by Van Gogh:
In terms of overall style, this house dress/tea gown stands out as one of the best examples of this style but for us, the most striking thing about it are the sleeves which act as a major style element but not to the exclusion of all else. With this garment, the gigot sleeve style has been taken to a new height of sheer aesthetic beauty.