Some Mid-1890s Dress Style

Today we feature a circa 1894 day dress from the Metropolitan Museum of Art that in many ways encompasses late 19th Century design aesthetics.

Day Dress, c. 1894; Metropolitan Museum of Art ( 35.134.13a, b)

This dress consists of a celedon-colored silk satin underskirt combined with a striped celedon overskirt with olive-colored wavy stripes. The overskirt continues past the waist, creating the effect of an open robe that opens to reveal a brown velvet under bodice trimmed in ivory-colored lace. This same velvet fabric is used in the leg-of-mutton upper sleeves which give way to lower sleeves made from the same striped silk satin as the overskirt. It’s an amazing combination of textures and fabrics: soft and non-luminous silk velvet giving way to very luminous silk satin. Also, the color combination is also harmonious and reveals that some care went into their selection. Finally, we see the use of a lot of dark old gold-colored trim and especially on the bodice front.

In terms of silhouette, although the bustle and trains had largely disappeared by the 1890s, there’s definitely a train with the dress and no doubt an appropriate understructure was employed; this dress doesn’t quite let go of late 1880s skirt style.

The above picture gives a good view of the rear and especially illustrates the color and fabric combinations very well. Below are some close-up views:

Here’s a closer view of the bodice front with it’s silk velvet/silk satin combination. The velvet color could be a brown or perhaps a dark chartreuse- it’s hard to tell.  The lace jabot was probably a lighter shade of ivory or off-white back when the dress was made; in our experience lace tends to yellow with age.

This picture nicely illustrates the outer fashion fabric and the trim. The outer fabric appears to be a combination of a lighter celedon-colored base fabric combined with a darker olive, or even steel-colored, striped ribbon-like fabric that’s been attached to the base fabric (as far as we can tell from the pictures).  Overall, it’s a fascinating combination of fabric and we’d love to be able to view this live. We hope you’ve enjoyed this view of mid 1890s style.


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