Some Late 1890s Daywear

Spring and Summer 1890s day dresses have always been of interest for us and we recently came across this interesting circa 1897 day dress that resides in the FIDM Museum collection:

P. Barroin, Day Dress, Paris, France, c. 1897; Printed dotted Swiss, silk chiffon, silk taffeta & cotton braid; FIDM Museum (2010.1098.3A-C)

The dress fabric is a red cotton dotted Swiss print with white silk chiffon and white silk taffeta trim. It’s too bad that we do not have a close-up picture of the fashion fabric; the idea of a printed dotted Swiss is interesting but unfortunately the effect is lost at a distance. However, in spite of this, we have a very sporty day dress that has a minimum of trim and embellishment and is definitely meant for being out and about town; the straw boater further reinforces this. The lines are classic 1890s although the wasp-waist, measuring 28 inches in diameter, is somewhat toned down compared to evening dresses and ball gowns of the period.

Interestingly enough, according to the FIDM Museum Blog, this dress was worn by a woman of about 5 feet 10 inches in height- this was a tall woman. The sleeves are indicative of the late 1890s- the leg-of-mutton sleeve style was diminishing. At the same time, we still see the faux shirtwaist style with the crimped silk chiffon in the middle. Finally, P. Barroin was not as prominent compared to the major designers such as Worth et al. but it still shows a sense of balance and proportion and the dress fabric is used to fairly good effect. This dress is representative of a more casual style of day wear that was coming into vogue during the late 1890s and could be considered to be a reflection fashion changing to reflect women’s shifting status in society (albeit, more gradual than what we’re used to today). We would say that this is definitely a worthy candidate for reproduction. 🙂

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