Today we take another quick look at early 1880s style with this day dress:
Although the museum description indicates early 1880s and the silhouette itself definitely reads Mid-Bustle/Natural Form Era although we think that this might be more of a late 1870s style on the basis of the prominent two-fabric combination in the bodice. Turning to the dress itself, it appears to be constructed of a combination of gold/champagne color silk satin and a silk brocade with a purple-gold-silver pansy pattern. The brocade is a very busy pattern and from a distance appears more of a black and green (of course, it could also be the lighting and appearance on a computer monitor).
The bodice is cut so that the solid champagne/gold satin is featured prominently, making up the main front and back panels with the back panels descending downwards mimicking a tail coat. The center fronts and the upper sleeves are made up of the brocade and provides a harmonious contrast. The neckline is trimmed in a combination of ivory lace, silver satin ribbons and dags of the brocade- it’s an interesting style effect.
The dress itself continues with this solid and brocade fabric theme with a ruched solid front combined with side panels and train in the brocade. The dress is layered but not in the usual over/underskirt manner but rather with vertical draped layers. Finally, the train the brocade is also used for the train.
Here’s some views of the side profile and one can see the vertical draping which emphasizes vertical lines, a characteristic of Mid-Bustle style.
Ths dress is an interesting example of Mid-Bustle Era style and while not a lot is know about it, it definitely combines the Mid-Bustle aesthetic of vertical lines while at the same time drawing upon the use of two somewhat contrasting fashion fabrics- in this case, a solid paired with a brocade with a small, busy pattern. Also, at the same time, while there’s contrast, the colors themselves harmonize well. We hope you’ve enjoyed this example and it demonstrates nicely that fashion styles tend to evolve, often blending old and new elements, than change abruptly.