Alittle preview of just one current project we’re working on… 🙂
With the arrival of Spring, we tend to think in terms of linen and cotton and such as with this circa 1890s day dress:
While the Augusta Auctions website describes this dress being made of cotton, it could have just as easily been linen but either way, it definitely reads as a warmer weather garment. This dress is of a style that consists of a skirt combined with what could be termed a waist worn over the skirt top. Of course, it also raises the question of when does a bodice become a waist or vice-versa? This dress seems to occupy that middle ground where sometimes it’s hard to determine; the bodice/waist is a little heavier than what we normally associate with the waist yet at the same time, it’s a bit more loosely structured that a standard dress bodice (or course, make no mistake, a corset was worn underneath).1For some more discussion on waists, click HERE. Here’s a couple more examples of this particular style:
The above French fashion plate illustrates this style nicely, albeit with a little variation; it’s clear that this was more of a youthful style and was especially useful when it came to outdoor activities:
And it would appear that this was a popular style as far back as the late 1880s with this pattern promotion in March 1889 issue of Demorest’s Family Magazine:
Below are some more views of the dress:
As can be seen from these pictures, the basic fashion fabric is a green/putty colored cotton with ivory stripes dress. White/ivory colored Guipure lace trims the bodice/waist. Finally, the shoulders are trimmed with black silk satin bows along with black silk satin belt and cuff stripes.
This is a simple yet elegant dress for the Spring and Summer and we especially envision this as the perfect seaside dress. 🙂
And just for something different, we found this interesting group image from the late 1890s illustrating warm weather daywear:
In this group portrait, one can see a variety of shirt waist styles ranging from the fairly plain to ones with elaborate pleating and ruching. Also, the two women with neck ties caught our eye- they’re very similar to an ascot. The skirts are fairly similar with no obvious adornment and topped off with sashes or belts. Finally, it must be noted that the hats overwhelm everything else and definitely catch the eye on first view- each one is unique and very elaborate styling. The one in the middle is especially interesting with it’s avian theme; it’s hard to tell if that’s a complete bird, just the wings, or something that simulates a bird. 😉 Ultimately, the shirt waist was one of the defining elements in 1890s fashion and the variety of styles and materials that they were used is amazing and it’s even more amazing seeing them in a period image. Stay tuned for more! 🙂
And continue the theme of 1890s waist and skirt style, today we focus on another skirt and waist combination that was featured in an 1896 edition of La Mode Pratique:
Here’s a rough translation of the description:
Dinner dress for a young woman; satin skirt; batiste bodice with polka dots decorated with a yoke and a belt of guipure lace1Guipure was a heavy lace consisting of embroidered motifs joined together by large connecting stitches.; draped satin collar; long white suede gloves.
This is a very elegant version of the waist and skirt style with the skirt being constructed of a brown silk satin combined with a waist/bodice2The terms “bodice” and “waist” or “blouse” were often used intern changeably. The term “corsage” was also used both in English and French. Often the lines seem to blur. constructed from a silk batiste trimmed with a matching lace collar and belt made of a white or ivory guipure lace (hard to tell from the illustration). What is also interesting is that the waist is a belted waist, meant for wear over the dress rather than being tucked in at the skirt waist line. Finally, to complete this outfit, there is also a pair of white suede gloves.
As can be seen from the above illustration, this style is a bit more formal than what was normally associated with the typical waist and skirt style of the era- that of a simple skirt and blouse-like shirtwaist (or waist. Here, the belted waist becomes more formal, bordering on a conventional dress bodice but yet, not quite; filling a niche- dressy but not too dressy- and is a perfect way to make an outfit serve in multiple roles. Moreover, we believe that this style is a perfect candidate for being recreated, because of its versatility. To us, the belted waist is a very under-represented style when looking at today’s recreated garments yet it was a very popular style of the 1890s. The belted waist came in a variety of styles for a number of price points to include sewing patterns for the home-sewer like these:
And here’s an extent example:
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this close-up of just one of many waist and skirt styles that were in existence during the 1890s and we hope to be posting more in the future. 🙂
Today’s 1890s style is a skirt and waist combination that was featured in an 1896 edition of La Mode Pratique:
Roughly translated, the description reads:
The skirt is a very dark purple Liberty velvet. The silk blouse is a water- green brocaded silk blouse with soft pink designs.; Water green brocaded. A light light lace imitating point d’Angleterre (English lace)1A bobbin lace of English origin.; velvet collar and belt.
What is most notable is that we’re seeing a very refined version of the waist and skirt combination style that was becoming extremely popular during the 1890s. While originally intended as practical garments for everyday wear, the style illustrated above takes the style further with the skirt made from a violet silk velvet, presumably obtained from Liberty London. The waist is a water green silk brocade with what appears to be a soft pink colored floral design. To establish a better of idea of “water green,” here’s a picture of some silk habotai in that color, subject to the differences in color that can arise from computer imagery:
The above style is the perfect demonstration of how what was originally meant as a simple practical outfit has now been elevated into something more high fashion. This elevating process has been a constant element in the evolution of fashion both during the late Nineteenth Century and today. Probably the best example today is how jeans were transformed from simple practical pants that were intended for manual laborers has now been elevated into high fashion, and on some occasions, haute couture. We hope you have found this to be as inspiring to you as it’s been for us. 🙂