Tea Gowns…Early Edwardian Style

Today’s fashion feature centers around the tea gown. While we’ve had some extensive coverage of this topic in past posts, today we shift focus to the early 1900s with a few examples starting with this design from Maison Rouff that was featured in the July 1902 issue of Les Modes:

And here’s another gown by Rouff from circa 1900:

Rouff, Tea Gown, c. 1900; Victoria & Albert Museum (T.87-1991)

As with earlier tea gowns, there were a variety of individual styles available to the fashion consumer but the one thing that’s striking about the above examples is that they combined soft layers with a distinctive decorated vertical front that ran the full length of the garment that served to draw the eye. Also, we see the the empire waist style being used as a style element as can be seen in the above gown. Below is a little more unstructured design from Maison Worth:

Worth, Tea Gown, c. 1900-1901; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.2498)

The black and white photography really shows off the floral and stripe pattern on the outer robe portion of the gown.

Rear View

Like the other gowns, Worth’s tea gown also features a train. On the other hand, lace is de-emphasized, only being used for the sleeves and trim around the neck. But what about tea gowns that weren’t made by high-end couture houses? Well, for those of lesser means, paper patterns were available for the home sewer and dressmaker such as this one that was featured in the January 31, 1901 issue of Vogue Magazine:

And then there’s this pattern featured in the July 24, 1902 issue:

The above images give a glimpse of tea gown trends during the early 1900s. From what we’ve seen, the one thing that stands out is that in contrast to the 1890s, the upper sleeve and shoulder were de-emphasized and lace seemed to play a more prominent role in sleeve design. In this post, we’ve painted with some pretty large brush strokes and in future posts, we hope to refine this a bit more, However, in the meantime, use these images as a source of inspiration. 🙂


Mid-1890s Style: Evening Gowns

For fashion, the 1890s was all about “going large” and that was especially true during the years 1895-1897 when fashion reached extreme levels with massively sized gigot or leg-of-mutton sleeves, narrow waists and large gored skirts. This trend was especially evident with evening gowns1The terms “evening gown” and “evening dress” are used somewhat interchangeably. For the purposes of consistency, we have chose to use the term “evening gown.” as can be seen below with these fashion illustrations:

Evening Gowns, 1895; Le Moniteur de la Mode

This style is interesting in that it utilizes a prince line combined with the hourglass “X” silhouette and gigot sleeves.

Illustrations are useful but nothing beats the real thing. Here’s some examples of extant evening gowns from the high 90s:

Evening Gown, c. 1895; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1979.346.59a, b)

Rear View

And for some close-ups of the shoulder/sleeve:

Close-Up Of Shoulder

Shoulder Detail

Why do these shoulders give off a Dynasty 1980s vibe? 🙂 Below is something a little different with a different sleeve color and fabric:

Evening Dress, c. 1895; Nordiska Museet

The black velvet sleeves offer an interesting contrast to the silk bodice and skirt not only in colors, but also in luster. The sleeves seems to suck up all the light around them while the silk skirt and bodice do just the opposite. The gown pictured below also does a similar thing although it’s a bit muted:

Worth, Evening Dress, c. 1896 – 1897; Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti via Europeanafashion

Here we have a contrast between the brown velvet bodice inserts and the gold silk bodice and skit. The eye is definitely drawn towards the bodice and by extension, the face. The circa 1893 gown design by Maison Worth below also offers an interesting contrast:

Worth, Evening Ensemble Dress, 1893; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.622a–c)

The silver gray and gold floral design skirt and outer bodice make an interesting contrast to the red silk inner bodice and skirt insert panels. Here the contrast is between colors rather than luster. Now for something a bit different, there’s this circa 1895 gown design by Maison Rouff:

Maison Rouff, Evening Dress, c. 1895; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.2339a, b)

Three-Quarter Rear View

And again, there’s contrast but this time between the ecru lace skirt and ivory silk bodice, also trimmed in ecru-colored lace- here the contrast is between textures. Also, the cut of the bodice is interesting, more reminiscent of an 18th Century design with its waistcoat silhouette. Finally, we see an inversion of the velvet/silk contrast theme in this circa 1887 gown, also from Maison Rouff:

Maison Rouff, Evening Dress c. 1897; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.332a, b)

Three-Quarter Rear View

With the above gown, the skirt and outer bodice is made from a salmon/peach silk velvet combined with a gold/champagne belt and under bodice. However, most of the gown is dominated by the salmon/peach silk velvet while the gold/champagne belt and under bodice give a pop of color. Also, the bodice is small in relation to the skirt with the skirt dominating. The above is only a small sampling of the variety of evening gowns that existed but it should give an idea of some of the period aesthetics. Stay tuned for more posts! 🙂



And For Some Style From Maison Rouff

Maison Rouff Card 1910.

Recently, we came across this interesting evening dress style that was offered by Maison Rouff from circa 1895:

Rouff Evening Dress c. 1895

Maison Rouff, Evening Dress, c. 1895; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.2339a, b)

Rouff Evening Dress c. 1895

Three-Quarter Rear View

The interesting thing about this style is incorporation of a short sleeve jacket/vest into the bodice, reminiscent of an 18th Century waist coat. This is a feature that’s not usually encountered in evening dress styles of the 1890s (at least what we’ve come across so far). Here’s a close-up of the back of the bodice:

Rouff Evening Dress c. 1895

Close-up detail of bodice back.

The dress and under-bodice look like a fairly conventional silk chiffon with a silk underskirt but where the jacket/vest definitely gives this a unique look. We would love to know more about this imaginative dress. 🙂