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. 🙂

Fashions For Fall and Winter 1886

Living in California, it is easy to forget that there are places where it is not sunny and warm all year round (such as Sweden 🙂 ). However, an an effort to remedy this deficiency, today we’re taking a look at a few fall and winter fashions from about 1886. Below is a fashion plate of daywear from the November 1886 issue of Peterson’s Magazine:

Peterson's_Nov 1886

The dresses are described from left to right as follows:

Fig. I – Visiting Dress, Of Dark-Brown Corded Silk. The skirt is laid in many narrow pleats with side-panels of right watered silk. The dolman is of brown corded silk lined with dark-green satin and trimmed with fur. Bonnet of dark-green velvet, with upright quill-feathers.

Fig. II – Walking Dress, Of Green Cashmere. The underskirt is of dark-green velvet; the cashmere is draped and quite long in the front, and falls plainly at the back, over a large tournure. The bodice is of green velvet, like the skirt, with vest and sleeves of the cashmere; the best hooks underneath green velvet sides. hat of dark-green velvet, trimmed with ribbon the shade of the cashmere.

Fig. III – Carriage Dress, Of Dark-Blue Poplin. The plaited underskirt is plain; the overskirt is made quite full, is edged with a band of beaver-fur, and is looped on the hips. The mantle is of beaver-fur, had broad tabs at the back, with “wings” on the sleeves, and the whole is edged with balls of beaver-fur. Felt hat, trimmed with blue velvet, and feathers the color of the beaver.

Fig. IV – Walking Dress, Of Wine-Colored Woolen Goods, with raised spots dotted over it. The underskirt is of plain silk; the woolen material is plaited to the bodice, and slightly draped at the back to show the silk underskirt; a band of velvet ornaments the front of the skirt, as well as forms a ceinture [belt] around the bodice, the collar, and a lapel on the left side of the front of the bodice. Hat of black felt, with a soft crown of silk and trimmed with loops of spotted foulard and a stiff aigrette.

Fig. V — Walking Dress, Of Chestnut-Brown Rough Woolen Material. The skirt is plain in front, with panels of the same color, striped crosswise by a plush stripe; at the back, it hangs quite plain over a large tournure. The bodice has folds of the striped plush material, with a velvet vest; velvet bow-and-ends on the left side. Large felt hat, trimmed with chestnut-colored ribbon.

The above designs gives an interesting cross section of what was current in daywear in late 1886. The predominant fashion fabric is wool although silk is also used in varying degrees; only the “visiting dress” is almost completely made of silk. All of these designs are functional and provide a starting point for the home sewer or commissioning a personal design. The colors are subdued, reflecting the fall/early winter season.

Turning to fashion trends, the December 1886 issue of Peterson’s Magazine gives an overview of what was trending in Paris (note: we have edited the passage for clarity):

The new materials of the season are very rich and handsome, and are proportionately expensive. Heavy faille or bengaline, figured or striped with plush or with velvet, contest the palm with figured or plaid velvet—or, more magnificent still, with velvet figured with large scattered flowers in uncut velvet, these flowers being outlined with gold thread.

One pattern shows large overlapping velvet blocks on a satin ground. Another has waved lines of velvet, a quarter of an inch wide, on a heavy corded silk ground. There are materials in two-inch wide stripes, alternately of satin and velvet, or satin and plush, or velvet and plush, the latter style being extremely rich in effect. All these are in solid colors.

Then there are velvets plaited with uncut velvet in two shades of the same color as the groundwork; and striped velvet, with narrow stripes imitating gold embroidery sunk in the velvet; and stamped-velvet stripes, alternating with satin stripes figured with plush or velvet.

For wraps, are shown velvets in subdued cashmere colors, the hues being very delicate and artistic, and the prevailing tints being dull-blue and faded rose. In the striped materials just described, the solid colors are all in subdued tones- garnet, seal-brown, heliotrope, and dark-gray being the fashionable shades of the season.

These stuffs are very expensive- costing, even in Paris, from five dollars to fifteen dollars per yard.1 But there will not be a great quantity of these costly fabrics employed in any one toilette. They will be used for the plain undershirt, and the short overskirt or pauter-drapery [portiere drapery]2 and sash at the back will be composed of plain material matching the groundwork, as will also be the corsage. Cashmere, striped or figured with velvet or with plush, is shown for less dressy costumes, and is far less expensive.

From the above, faille and bengaline figured or striped with plush or velvet with plaid, palm or flowers are trending.



Bengaline and faille are similar fabrics in that they are both a plain weave fabric with more warp yarns than weft yarns. The warp yarns on both are usually silk (more properly termed filaments) while the weft yarns are thicker, thus creating the crossways rib effect. For Bengaline, the weft yarns are usually cotton while with faille, both warp and weft yarns are usually silk. However, both fabrics have been made completely with silk or cotton. The best way to tell them apart is that Bengaline tends to have thicker, more pronounced cross-ribs. Both are lustrous fabrics and wear well and the best part was that the cotton-silk blends are less expensive than pure silk, thus offering silk’s benefits at a cheaper price.

And there there is cashmere:

Given the high cost of cashmere (even back in 1886), there is a good chance that the “cashmere” was actually some sort of wool blend (after all, this was before the Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939).

And just for interest, below are the subdued tones that are trending for wraps (subject to the interpretation of the computer):



Seal Brown1

Seal Brown



Dark Grey1

Dark Gray

And finally, just to demonstrate that high fashion was actively being marketed to the middle class, below is an advertisement from a concern located in Kansas City, Missouri. 🙂


Advertisement, c. 1886

We hope you have enjoyed small view of the fashion world of 1886- it’s not often that we can drill down to the specific details but with the increasing availability of scanned versions of the major fashion magazines of the time, this process has been made a lot easier and we hope to have more postings of this nature in the future.

1. [Approximately $130 to $357 a yard at 2020 prices.]
2. [The term “Portiere Drapery” is taken the French word portière which is a hanging curtain placed over a door or over the doorless entrance to a room.]

Pingat-1880s Style

Today we take a look at one of Pingat’s earlier works, in this case an evening cloak/coat from the later part of the 1880s (circa 1885-1889). Compared to previous examples we’ve posted from the 1890s, this cloak takes a completely different silhouette characteristic of late 1880s style. Here are a few views:

Pingat, Evening Cloak, c. 1885-1889; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.484)

This cloak is constructed from an floral-patterned ivory silk jacquard combined with a peach velvet with dark peach/gold appliques that creates a two-tone effect. In terms of silhouette, this cloak is somewhat of a hybrid in that it combines the upper body and sleeve styles characteristic of mantles with a long coat style on the bottom. The cloak shape closely follows the classic late 1880s dress style, allowing ample room for the bustled train.

One can get a fairly good view of the peach-colored fashion fabric that’s on the front , back, and lower sleeves. It appears to be a close-napped velvet but of course, this is speculation given the lack of any specific details on the museum website or a close physical examination. 😉

Three-Quarter Back View

Close-up of back detail.

From this close-up of the back, one can get a good look at the contrasting silk brocade floral fabric versus the deeper peach velvet fabric and it’s applique decorative design. Cloaks and mantles provided a large canvas for the designer to utilize all manner of decorative effects and Pingat was definitely one to use this to maximum extent; this particular example not only sees a combination of different design styles but does so in a harmonious way. Victorian Era outerwear has always been a source of fascination for us in that it combines the practical and utilitarian with the artistic and while each designer had their own take on this, Pingat’s was especially unique. We’ll be hunting for more interesting examples to post here so stay tuned. 🙂

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! 🙂

And For Some Artistic Inspiration…

Today we offer a little artistic inspiration by way of this portrait of the Princesse de Broglie that was painted by James Tissot in 1895:

James Tissot, The Princesse de Broglie, 1895

The first thing that caught our eye was Tissot’s use of analogous colors with shades of green on the cape and shades of yellow on the dress. The green colors on the cape are especially interesting in that we see shades of color accentuated by various textures: light green feathers for trim, slightly darker green on the pleated silk collar, and a variegated fashion fabric of gold and green. The overall effect is amazing. The evening dress the sitter is wearing definitely takes second place with a yellow fashion fabric trimmed with a darker yellow on the hem, collar, and belt.  Finally, to tie it all together, there’s a choker collar of dark blue with gold that immediately draws the eye to the sitter’s face. Tissot has done a brilliant job here and one can almost feel a visual harmony of coolness, evoking a sense of spring and summer and some reason our minds are drawn to Monet’s home at Giverny…


In terms of garments, greens have always been a favorite with us and many of our designs have incorporated similar colors:

We have by no means exhausted the design possibilities using these colors and anticipate creating more designs in the future. 🙂