Outerwear For The 1890s…

ca. 1890’s, [cabinet card, portrait of a woman with a camera] sooo glad we don't have to wear all this any more


ately, it seems that outerwear has been on my mind, especially after yesterday’s post. 🙂 Although the weather here in Southern California has been unseasonably warm, it’s post-Labor Day and Fall is coming- I just feel it- and hence my looking forward. In the course of writing my post on 1880s outerwear, I came across some illustrations of the jacket styles that were coming into vogue during the 1890s, especially in view of the trend towards cycling suits and similar practical garments that developed in response to the shifting position of women.

1890s Jacket Styles 1890

Fashion Plate, Winter 1890

Jackets are interesting in that while they’re obviously meant as outerwear against the elements, they also seem to act as a sort of “over-bodice” for dresses and in some fashion illustrations, it’s hard to tell if they jackets or bodices. It’s an interesting conundrum, to say the least. While this style developed during the 1880s, jackets became especially pronounced during the 1890s, being commercially produced in a wide variety of styles as pictured below:

Womens' Jackets 1899 - 1900

Short jackets were especially useful for women engaging in outdoor activities such as cycling as can be seen from these examples:

Cycling Jacket 1898 - 1900

Cycling Jacket, c. 1898-1900; Rrijksmuseum BK-1973-402)


But jackets were not just limited to activewear, but they could also be high-fashion as with this example from the House of Worth:

Afternoon Jacket Worth 1895

Afternoon Jacket, Worth, 1895; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.75)

Afternoon Jacket Worth 1895

Style-wise, jackets reflected the prevailing styles to include in this case, leg-of-mutton sleeves. Here’s are some pictures of the jacket being worn as part of a total outfit:

Afternoon Jacket Worth 1895

Afternoon Jacket Worth 1895

And, just to show the range of design/style possibilities, here’s another example from an unknown source:

Jacket c. 1890s

Jacket, c. 1890s; North Dakota State University Emily Reynolds Historic Costume Collection (1986.07.55)

Jacket c. 1890s

Jacket c. 1890s

Jacket c. 1890s

Rear View

Although a specific date is not given, I would estimate that this jacket was made in the late 1890s, probably 1898-1900. The tailoring is exquisite and the appliques and embroidery are spectacular, if not a bit over-the-top, and style treatment on the front is simply amazing, especially since it creates the illusion that there are is a separate vest and jacket (they’re actually all one unit). It’s too bad that there’s no known picture of this jacket being worn as part of a complete outfit.

The previous two examples are quite elaborate with detail but simpler versions did exist and they would definitely make a perfect addition to almost any 1890s day outfit- it’s something that’s not seen being recreated these days.


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