Some 1880s Outerwear


t’s technically Fall here in Southern California but from the 100 degree-plus temperatures we’ve been having, one wouldn’t think so…and naturally with Fall our thoughts turn to outerwear. Towards this end, today’s post is a selection of more practical style of outerwear that were available in the 1880s so enjoy!


uterwear, and especially practical outerwear, is something that’s typically overlooked in fashion and the late 1880s were no exception. This all got started with this interesting picture dated from 1881:

Yankton1 1881 Day Wear Streeet

Yankton, South Dakota, 3d street looking west from Walnut. 1881

And from there, we found some interesting examples starting with this 1880s coat from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Coat, c. 1880s; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.52.44)

Rear View

Side Profile


And here’s another example that’s dated from circa 1883:

Womens Coat c. 1883

Women’s Coat, American, c. 1883; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1982.348.3)

Womens Coat c. 1883

Side Profile

Womens Coat c. 1883

Rear View

This coat is almost very similar to the one worn by the woman in the center front of the picture. And just for fun, here’s a more elaborate design by John Redfern:

Womens Coat Redfern 1888

Redfern, Women’s Coat, 1888; Chicago History Museum (1987.471.1a-)

Womens Coat Redfern 1888


Womens Coat Redfern 1888

Three-Quarter Side View

Womens Coat Redfern 1888

Three-Quarter Rear View

This coat design is a women’s version of the Inverness coat/cloak with tailored lines designed to work with the bustled dress style characteristic of the late 1880s. The above is only a small sample but it does give an idea of the sort of outerwear that was found in the 1880s.

Trending For November 1878

November is fast approaching so we that we’d take a look at what was trending for November 1878. According to Peterson’s Magazine:

Petersons_Nov 1878_1

Peterson’s Magazine, November 1878 (We realize that the quality of this extant plate is not the best.)

Fig. I- Walking-Dress of Olive-Green Camel’s Hair, made short; the over-dress is drawn back and fastened with a large bow; the dress is trimmed with a band of olive-green silk, with raised velvet figures of a darker shade. The wrap Is of the same material as the dress, plaited [pleated] back and front into a largo yoke; the sleeves are wide and long; gray felt bonnet, trimmed with olive-green velvet and rich, red ostrich tips.

Fig. II- Visiting Dress of Emerald-Green Velvet; It is of the princess shape, made without trimming on the skirt, and the train is laid in full plaits beneath a band of a lighter shade of satin, which is confined at the side by a largo buckle. The front and sleeves are trimmed with gold-colored hanging buttons. Large collar and cuffs of guipure lace.

Fig. III- Visiting Dress of Gray Silk, Trimmed With Narrow Garnet Velvet; the lower-skirt has one deep plaited flounce, the upper-skirt is long, edged in front with a narrow plaited ruffle, and falls fan-shaped at the back; the waist is high and open in front ; the sleeves reach to the elbow ; mantilla of black lace.

Fig. IV- Reception Dress of Yellow Silk, Princess Shape; worn under a dress of black Spanish net which is woven to fit the figure.

Fig. V- Carriage-Dress of Slate-Gray Silk; made rather long, without trimming on the back, and with a chenille fringe on the front. The cloak is of blue-black velvet, trimmed with a band of fur. Hat of gray felt, trimmed with gray velvet, and a long, curling, ostrich plume at the back.

With its green camel hair, the walking dress in Figure I is perfectly suited for the winter. It’s difficult to make out the details from the plate but it appears to be a combination of an outer paletot and dress made from the same camel hair fabric. Unfortunately, there’s not too much more that can be made out.

Figure II is interesting visiting dress in that it is made in the princess style from an emerald green velvet. There is a minimal amount of decoration as would be expected for a day dress and the skirt and trail is pleated with the pleats secured by a band of satin. The collar and cuffs are of guipure lace, a type of lace that connects toe motifs with bars or plaits rather than netting.

Guipure Lace

Emerald-Colored Velvet

Next we have another visiting dress only thing time made from a gray silk and trimmed in narrow bands of garnet velvet. Because of the black mantilla covering up the bodice, it is difficult to make out what style the dress is in but we will assume that it is a fairly typical combination. The bodice is probably worked in the cuirass style and the skirt presents the usual narrow silhouette with a fan-train.

Garnet-Colored Silk Velvet

The princess style dress makes another appearance in Figure IV, this time in the form of a reception dress. The dress itself is plain and its decorative effect is from a form-fitting black net that fits over it. Just for example, here’s one princess style dress that was featured in the October 1877 issue of Peterson’s:

Finally, with Figure V, we a carriage dress in a slate-gray with a cloak of black-blue velvet worn over it. As with Figure I, it is difficult to make out just exactly what the dress looks like but it is probably safe to say that it is similar to a promenade dress in that it was meant to be worn when out in public (i.e. in a carriage) and/or one is going to pay a formal visit:

For a carriage-dress, or for more formal visiting, the skirt can be longer, the colors of the dress a little lighter, or brighter, if it is desired (though the rich dark ones are in quite as good taste), the mantle or sacque more trimmed, the bonnet or hat gayer, the whole toilette with a more holiday look. Yet the costume for the promenade, or visiting, of which we have just spoken, is quite suitable for a carriage-dress Peterson’s Magazine, February 1878, p. 159).

It would seem that the “carriage dress” in its purest form is a hybrid between an promenade dress and a more formal reception dress in that the train is a bit longer than the promenade dress since minimal walking would be expected yet at the same time, it was a dress to be worn outside so it is a bit more substantial than a more formal indoors reception dress in terms of materials. Of course, we are no doubt splitting hairs here and as Peterson’s points out, it is perfectly acceptable to simply wear the same dress that one would wear if paying a visit out in public.  🙂

Now, admittedly the fashion information in the above plate is bit thin so we are going to try and fill in some gaps. In regard to Figure I, below is an larger image of a similar style from the November issue of Townsend’s Monthly Selection of Paris Costumes:


The shape of the paletot (or Chambord) is very distinct with wide sleeves that open out so that the sleeve bottom hangs in the form of a rectangle. The advantage of this style is that with the loose sleeves, it is easy to put on and take off- just the perfect garment for visiting. Finally, just to note that the dress worn with this is a princess style dress.

In closing, while using fashion plates and other images may seem to present a somewhat distorted view of fashion, we would argue that it only serves as a starting point and especially for those who wish to design their own recreations. Naturally, we advocate using this original documentation in conjunction with what surviving extant garments there are (the Met alone has quite a collection and we lean on it a lot for our ideas). Also, original photographs are also very useful and often can provide a “reality check” for one’s ideas. We hope you find this informative and we hope that it will provide you with inspiration. 🙂

Pingat- Early 1890s Outerwear

Emile Pingat was one of the leading Parisian couturiers during the late 19th Century and was especially known for his outerwear. We first begin with this circa 1891 mantle:

Pingat, Mantle, c. 1891; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.337)

This cape is constructed from a pale blue wool overlaid with metallic gold bullion and gray velvet appliques that create a floral design motif. Trimming the front, cuffs, and collar are turquoise feathers.

Pingat, Mantle, c. 1891; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.337)

The side profile gives a good view of the typical mantle profile- long in the front and short in the rear to accommodate the bustled train, or in this case, a more truncated train created by a bustle pad. And to get an idea of how it would have looked worn with a dress:

Interestingly enough, it appears that the dress underneath is this 1893 evening dress by Worth:

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

Of course, this also raises the question of putting on the mantle over the dress’s gigot sleeves…. 😉

Below is another example of Pingat’s work from the early 1890s, this time a cape dated to circa 1891-1893:

Pingat, Cape, c. 1891-1893; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.60.6.8)

This cape is constructed of a black silk velvet and trimmed with fur along the front and the collar. Running along the front and up onto the shoulders are strips of a silver jeweled trim; at the shoulders, the trim accentuates the epaulets and makes them stand out as a design feature. Also, the color is also trimmed with the same type of silver jeweled trim. Below is another view of the cape’s opening:

It’s hard to completely discern but it appears that the cape opens on the front sides. The lining material is also interesting as can be seen with the label:


The silver jeweled trim continues on the back in a dramatic manner, using most of the back and really takes over to create a very opulent look.

Rear View

The above two garments only give a hint at Pingat’s amazing design skills and in future posts, we’ll looking at some more examples. Stay tuned! 🙂

What’s On At The Atelier, Pour Mercredi…

As promised, here’s some progress pictures of the 1880s mantle we’re currently working on. This is based off a pattern that we drafted from an original garment dating from the late 1880s. This one features a crimson fashion fabric with a corded floral pattern with crimson silk velvet facings and a gold moire lining. In these pictures, all the major components have been put together and the only thing left to do is some handwork on the interior seams and adding trim and froggings. 🙂