And Now For Some Late 1880s Dress Style

Today we move towards the end of the 1880s with this circa 1889 day dress from the Met:

Day Dress, c. 1888-1889; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.41.15.2a, b)

This dress consists of redingote bodice constructed from a dark jewel tone blue colored silk duchess (of at least it appears that way from what can tell from the photos) combined with a skirt of the same color in a silk jacquard with a floral pattern. The underbodice appears to be a multi-colored patterned, perhaps a wool or silk-wool challis, that serves as a dramatic color pop set against the dark blue background. Also, if you look closely at the underbodice, it’s been style so that hangs in a swag on the wearer’s left side ending in a fringed tail. It’s interesting to see this combined with the redingote style bodice.

This rear view provides a better view of the long tails of the redingote bodice combined with the skirt and train. While it’s got a train, it’s somewhat restrained and hints at skirt styles of the 1890s.

This close-up of the front upper bodice gives a good view of the underbodice. The outer bodice has been cut to show off the underbodice color to the best advantage. This dress is just one interesting variation of the “Redingote” style that was trending in the late 1880s and early 1890s and to us, it’s another source of inspiration for a recreated period dress style- stay tuned for more on this in the future.


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More 1880s Day Wear Style

Looking for ideas for recreating early 1880s daywear? Well, here’s one interesting source of inspiration- a circa 1882-1883 day dress from the Met 😃:

Day Dress, c. 1882-1883; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.41.38.1a, b)

This day dress combines a purple with gold silk brocade floral pattern bodice and overskirt with a purple-colored silk underskirt a rich color palette. The purple is deep, leaning towards jewel tones and the gold brocade provides a dramatic bright contrast.

As can be seen, the dress silhouette reads early 1880s and features a moderate train/bustle arrangement. The gold overskirt/apron and bodice attract the eye and lead it up to the wearer’s face- this one’s both elegant and understated at the same time.

Above provides a good view of the bodice and the contrast between it and the skirt- the combination is both contrasting and harmonious at the same time.

The above close up of the upper front bodice shows an inset of ruched purple silk and it appears to open from the front, judging from the evident hooks and eyes. This dress could easily fit in on the series The Gilded Age and it something we’d expect a member of the conservative van Rhijn family to wear. Let this serve to inspire! 😁


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A Mid-Bustle Era Dress

Gray is a color that works for a variety of fashions and especially when it comes to daywear. Here is just example that every effectively combines complementary shades of gray (we kind of cringe using that phrase… 😄 ), made by a one Amedée Françoise (unfortunately, we were unable to find anything in English about this Couturiere):

Day Dress 1880

Day Dress, c. 1880; Metropolitan Museum of Art (43.72.2a–c)

Day Dress 1880

Side Profile

As can be seen from these pictures, this dress combines a solid dark gray silk underskirt with an embroidered patterned silk bodice and train. The patterned bodice fabric has a darker gray background and while this would simply serve to darken the entire dress, this fabric actually has the opposite effect partly because of the fabric’s luster and the white and lavender embroidered pattern.

Day Dress 1880 - Rear

Left Three Quarter Rear View

Style-wise, this dress is firmly in the Mid-Bustle Era, 1880 to be precise, and as such it’s characterized by having a cylindrical profile, low demi-train, and defined balayeuse. Moreover, the bodice is reminiscent of an 18th Century coat with cutaway lapels.

Day Dress 1880

Rear View

Except for the the band of tassels running along the hem, the skirt is unadorned with a smooth back and three rows of knife pleating on the front. Interestingly enough, the train appears to be composed of two different shades of gray silk fabric; the darker gray makes up the majority of skirt while the lighter shade is seen peeking out at the bottom where the skirt and train begin. Although it’s hard to tell from the available pictures, we would be inclined to say that this appears to be a minimal underskirt. Also, this light gray matches the trim. Finally, the bodice is also relatively unadorned except for fringe and tassels running along the edges. Below are some close up views that better illustrate the contrasts in the two base fabrics:

Sleeve Detail

Detail View Of Button

Detail View Of Fabric

Label – Amedee Francois

This dress utilizes a masterful combination of grays to achieve an effect that is both understated and elegant at the same time; with this this dress, the fabrics and cut do all the talking. 🙂


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Something Different In 1880s Dress Style

We recently came across this very interesting circa 1880-1882 day dress in the costume collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  What’s striking about this dress is that the dress fabric is more of a composite consisting of a polka dotted mesh over an underlayer rather simply being a just a single fabric. Let’s take a look…

Day Dress, c. 1880-1883; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.38.8.1a, b)

In both pictures, above and below, one can see the polka dot mesh combined with rows of wide lace trim also with polka dots. The sleeves are interesting in that the design appears to be a railroaded mesh that contrasts with the main bodice.

Silhouette-wise, this dress follows an early to mid-1880s style with some training but not quite the more extreme styles that arise later in the decade. At the same time, the training is somewhat restrained and minimal as was characteristic in Mid-Bustle Era/Natural Form styles.

The bodice appears to be a fairly standard polonaise style, as can be seen from both these front and rear views.

And views of the train…

Now for some closer views of the fashion fabric:

In the above picture, we have an extreme close-up view of the mesh fashion fabric with inset polka dots. It’s hard to make out what the underlayer is but we can safely assume that it’s probably some form of silk or may be even a sateen (I’ve got an inquiry in with the Met on this point). Below is a close-up of the bodice top which appears to have a black velvet collar and lapels.

Another close-up view to include the sleeves with appears to be made of a patterned black netting combined with gold-colored piping. It’s more delicate and subtle than when first viewed at a distance.

Finally, here are views, above and below, of the lace treatments with black polka dots. The detail is amazing!

From a fashion historical perspective, this is a fascinating dress although in that one doesn’t usually see a mesh effect used on fashion fabric in quite this matter for late 19th Century styles. Also, visually, the sleeves provide an interesting contrast to the rest of the dress and they seem to almost clash- at least to us. While design-wise this is interesting, we’re not so sure that this was particularly effective from an aesthetic perspective but this is subjective on our part. Anyway, we hope you’ve enjoyed this small excursion into an out-of-the-way fashion style.


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