Redingote Style

In this post, we take a look at the redingote as an outerwear style. Like the Directoire style, the redingote had its origins in the early 19th Century and so it only makes sense to also see its revival, albeit in a more limited form. So what defined this style? Some insight can be found in the January 12, 1889 issue of Harper’s Bazar in a description of Parisian fashion trends:

The garment most worn this winter, which hitherto has been as mild as that of Nice, is the redingote; and if severe weather should suddenly set in and oblige us to take refuge in furs, suspending the usefulness of the redingote, it will resume its ascendancy again next March. Made as it is now, it closely resembles a man’s coat. The revers are cut and rolled in the same fashion, the sleeves are similar, and the bodice of the street dress over which it is worn, usually of cloth, or Cheviot [a variety of wool fabric], or sometimes faille, bears the same relation to it as the masculine waistcoat to the coat.

The redingote, which is almost as long as the dress, is worn with different dresses, but if it is slashed in the back the breadths of the dress are usually of the same color, only the bodice front and skirt being different, as for instance, a black redingote over a dress which has back breadths of black faille. The great and unfortunate popularity which it has attained is entirely owing to our unusually mild temperature. All the fur-lined long cloaks and small wraps are as yet unemployed although doubtless their turn will come.

Beside the redingote cloak there are many pretty redingotes which form part of the dress, of brocade, or of Pompadour silks; these have revers turned back on the front, sometimes meeting at the waist with the open space above filled in by a lace plastron; below the waist, it spreads apart again, displaying a skirt of glacé silk, with embroidery or passementerie, or of a crêpe de Chine embroidered.

Simpler but not less pretty is a redingote  of plain or changeable silk opening on a plastron and skirt front of ancient silk— some old silk of the eighteenth century, which may possibly have been employed for furniture drapery in the interim, and is now restored to its original use. There is a perfect rage for old-time silks at this moment, and when one does not possess a sufficient quantity to make an entire skirt front, still there must be enough at least to furnish a gathered plastron and a collar and cuffs for a dress restored to its original use.

The above is interesting in that it differentiates two styles of redingotes: one that was a full-on coat; and one that was part of a dress style. The coat style is fairly straight-forward and functional as noted in the December 1891 issue of Demorest’s Family Magazine:

Probably there is no garment more convenient and comfortable for cold weather than a redingote: it is thoroughly protective, the arms are free, and it constitutes a complete walking-costume in itself. The “Lorenza” is a perfectly plain, double-breasted garment with a lap in the middle seam in the back, and is adapted to all seasonable materials suit able for outer garments. The illustration represents tan-colored, rough-surfaced cloth, trimmed with seal far. The hat is of brown velvet with brown ostrich-tips and a bow of orange-colored velvet.

Here’s an illustration of the Lorenza pattern redingote:

For a better idea of what they looked like, here’s one extant redingote that I found on the Augusta Auctions website:

In viewing the above redingote, it appears that it’s most likely late 1880s vintage: it’s structure is clearly shaped to accommodate a bustled skirt. This is an interesting combination of functional and decorate styles and definitely fulfills its function as outerwear. In our next post, we’ll explore the “dress redingote” style a bit more so stay tuned! 🙂

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The Gilded Age – Our Take, Part 1

The recently released HBO series The Gilded Age has become a center of focus amongst the historical costume community and not a day goes by when someone asks us what our take is…all right, let’s being by saying that costuming the show has been a major feat and the sheer scale and magnitude is simply amazing. That said, we also note that the overall quality has been very uneven: one the one hand, many of the costumes are simply exquisite and it’s evident that a lot of effort has gone into recreating early 1880s fashions (the show opens in the year 1883). However, at the same time, there are some costumes that leave us a bit quizzical and have us scratching our heads.

Mrs. Van Rhijn Approves…

However, unlike some other commentators, we’re not going to dwell on the rightness or wrongness of the costume designs, but rather offer some commentary on specific items that interest us the most and not really dwell on some of the less optimal designs (well, mostly, anyway 😆). So, just to get things started, here’s an exquisite opera cape that caught our eye:

We really wish we had a close-up of this…the passmentarie and other trim against a ruby/claret silk velvet base is exquisite. The steel gray lining, along with the passmentarie, further complements the ruby/claret color in the velvet. Our only complaint is that it’s too long- a cape wouldn’t have dragged along the floor- but otherwise, we’ll take it. 😆 Now, just for comparison, here’s a couple original capes by Pingat from the 1880s:

Evening Cape, Emile Pingat, c. 1885 – 1889; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.140)

Opera Cape, Emile Pingat, c. 1882; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.60.42.13)

Going out to social events, especially evening social events, was major means of making oneself “seen” in society and every piece of clothing was selected with that in mind. Items such as opera capes were meant to grab people’s attention and they often brilliantly succeeded- Pingat built a whole fashion empire around this.

In the end, the Gilded Age tells a fictional story (albeit rooted in historical reality) so liberties are going to be taken. If you want to take a deep dive into historical 1880s fashion, there are plenty of reference sources and in future posts, we’ll discuss this more. Stay tuned for more in the near future!

Pattern Review – 1890s Cape by Wearing History

In this video, we review the Victorian 1890s 1899 Ponderosa Cape Pattern- Reversible with Hood and Pockets by Wearing History. This is available for download as a PDF Sewing Pattern and very easy to download and put together.

For our Patrons, we will be releasing more detailed content to include details as to the specific fabrics and trims used, construction techniques, and the design choice that we made bringing this project to life. We highly recommend this pattern and you can get your copy HERE.

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