And For A Little 1890s Day Dress Style

One of the most interesting things about 1890s styles is the use of color and fabrics. Today we feature a day dress that was made in 1892, or close thereabouts:

Day Dress 1892

Day Dress, c. 1892; University of New Hampshire Library 157a,b)

Day Dress 1892

What  immediately caught our eye was the near-florescent colors of the base fashion fabric and the trim. The fashion fabric appears to be a dark blue velvet trimmed with a combination of the dark and  light blues and salmon red . In terms of silhouette, appears to be more early 1890s where the leg-of-mutton sleeve are prominent but haven’t reached the out-sized proportions later seen by 1895. Also, the dress “bodice” appears to be a jacket and waistcoat style although in reality, it’s probably just a one-piece construction. Here’s close-up of the bodice:

Day Dress 1892

What is interesting is that the colors are in excellent condition, given the age of the dress and the luster is amazing- it’s almost iridescent. Granted that lighting and camera angle can alter a garment’s visual appearance but it’s still amazing.  Here’s some close-up views of the trim:

The trim is especially interesting and especially towards the bottom where one can see grape-like bead clusters that give an effect is that of garden vines. Below are a couple of views of the skirt design:

The lining appears to be a combination of blue silk taffeta and a blue-red cotton(?).

The pictures do not give justice to this dress and it’s difficult to determine the specific construction. For the skirt, below is a full description from the University of New Hampshire Textile Library website:

The skirt has the effect of multiple layers but with just one waistband. A six-gored foundation skirt of blue silk is smooth-fitting in front and pleated at the hips and back, and is slightly longer in back than in front. Over this, four panels of the voided velvet hang from the waist to nearly the floor, free-floating except for a few tacking stitches to keep them from flopping over and with dark red silk facings just wide enough to cover the inside edges.

The panels are wide enough to show three of the voided pattern bands each, and at the bottom of each band is a grape-like cluster of silk-wrapped and crocheted balls in graduating sizes, left free to dangle. The two front panels are sewn together but have the same decorative buttons and loops as the bodice. Beneath the panels, more blue velvet is sewn to the foundation layer in flat panels and box pleats to make it appear that there is an entire underskirt of velvet. In back, a 96.5 cm/38 in. wide panel of floor-length blue velvet, partially sewn in at its sides, is cartridge pleated to a short band and hooks to the waistband to cover the center-back opening of the foundation skirt and provide fullness. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.

The construction details are fascinating and we wish that we were able to examine this dress in person- one can only go so far from pictures alone. We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief view of a fascinating early 1890s day dress. Stay tuned for more!

And For A Little 1890s Bodice Style

Today we show a little 1890s bodice style with some interesting designs that we recently came across. First up is this somewhat de-constructed 1890s bodice from the John Bright Collection:

Bodice, 1890s; John Bright Collection.

Unfortunately, beyond a vague “1890s” date, there’s nothing specific so it’s hard to pin down the specific year. However, the basic shape does read 1890s, possibly mid-1890s. Below is a close-up view of the bodice front. Note the tight armscyes of the armholes. It would be interesting to know what sort of sleeves were attached. 🙂

It’s hard to make out the fashion fabric but it’s most likely on the order of a black silk taffeta with white/ivory-colored passmentarie combined with lace along the center front (presumably to cover the front opening). On the waist is a band of black silk satin with a large bow on the left side. Below is a close-up of the collar which combines a black silk satin straight collar with petals in the back. The petals are each decorated with an embroidered floral pattern reminiscent of 18th Century motifs.

Close-Up Of Collar

For comparison, below is a similar bodice style constructed with a faux vest in the front:

Bodice, c. 1895-1897; Minnesota Historical Society (9520.11)

In many respects, the above mid-1890s bodice is fairly similar and we could easily see it with a gigot sleeves. Of course, it could have just as easily reflected the more restrained sleeve styles of the early and late 1890s:

Bodice- 1893

Bodice- Late 1890s

Either way, this bodice style provides a nice “blank canvas” for a variety of fabric, color, and trim styles.

A Little Fashion In Detail

Spending an afternoon with some fuchsia silk faille, antique sequins, jet, and “Fashion in Detail.” I’ve seen this piece at the V&A in London up close…time to take that inspiration and put it to use.  🙂

And a view of the inspiration:

Guiquin, L, Bodice, 1895; V&A Museum (T.271&A-1972)


And We’re Moving Towards Winter (Slowly)

It’s actually a little cold here in Southern California so we immediately thought of coats so here’s an evening coat from Maison Worth, circa 1902:

Maison Worth, Evening Coat; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.308)

This coat is constructed from a silk brocade with a large floral design and trimmed along the front opening edges and cuffs with an ivory lace. The collar is in the Medici style and also trimmed in ivory lace with two large ivory-colored tulle bows. Finally, the sleeves are wide Mandarin sleeves. It’s interesting to note that the floral pattern has been matched so it’s symmetrical on the front and matches perfectly in the back, as can been seen in the picture below:

And for a view of a live model wearing the coat:

One thing that we found striking is that on initial viewing, it appears to be more of a tea gown with it’s lace and tulle trimming than a coat. It’s an interesting style effect giving both the appearance of something worn only at home while at the same time something that could be worn to a formal public event. This is a garment that we would love to be able examine in person. 🙂 This is definitely something we would love to recreate and it could even be worn today.

And For A Little More Finnish Style

We found another interesting fashion from the Museovirasto in Finland, this time a circa 1880s evening dress that once belonged to a Ellen Mathilda Wilhelmina Tudeer (nee Wijkander) who was born in 1858):

Evening Dress, c. 1880s; Finnish Board of National Antiquities (KM 32035)

Based on the silhouette, this dress perhaps dates from about 1880-1882. The train is low and the bodice is long, extending over the hips. The dress appears to be constructed from a pink blush silk taffeta with two rows of knife pleating running along the skirt hem as well as more knife pleating running below the neck line and upper shoulders. The one interesting feature about this dress is the bertha running along the neckline that’s reminiscent of earlier 1860s styles; it’s not something you usually see on 1880s dresses.1During the 19th Century, a bertha was defined as being a collar made of lace or another thin fabric. It is generally flat and round, covering the low neckline of a dress, and accentuating a woman’s shoulders. Unfortunately, there’s not much more information on the dress itself but nevertheless, it’s a n interesting garment because of its blend of 1880s and 1860s fashion elements. Hopefully one day we’ll find out more about this dress.