Modes Robe De Jour Vers 1895

Fashion in the 1890s saw an explosion in dress styles and especially when it came to skirt and jacket combinations. Here’s just one interesting example of a circa 1895 day dress1In some instances, “day dress” and “jacket/skirt combinations” are used somewhat interchangeably. from the Musée de arts decoratifs Paris :

Day Dress, c. 1895; Musée des Arts Décoratifs (26009 AB)

This dress has an interesting color palette consisting of a light gray silk taffeta bodice combined with darker gray silk velvet sleeves for bodice/jacket; and the same light gray taffeta for the outerskirt and train combined with a red and gold silk brocade underskirt. Even more striking is that the lapels on the bodice/jacket are also in the same red and gold silk brocade- the effect is stunning. Below is a close-up of the bodice:

Here, one can make out the stylized pockets surrounded by gold embroidery. Also, the top of a faux vest in the same red brocade can also be seen with a waist underneath. It’s very likely that  it’s all one unit giving the effect of multiple layers. Here’s a close up of the brocade:

Below are a couple of profile pictures:


Judging from the pictures, it would appear that the outer and inner skirts are really of one unit and represent an interesting evolution of the over/underskirt combination found on later 19th Century styles. Also, while the bustle style had mostly disappeared by the 1890-91, it still lingered on a bit in a more muted form with padding. Finally, here’s a three-quarter rear view that shows off the train:

This is an interesting dress in that it takes the basic walking suit of the 1890s and then takes it a bit further with using contrasting colors to create an over/underskirt style that’s reminiscent of what was more common in the 1880s. Colorwise, we seen the use of analogous colors with the two shades of gray (although they’re technically neutral) and the use of red as a contrast. It’s not a combination that one normally encounters and it definitely stands out. But what’s more interesting is that the dark gray is on a velvet which absorbs light thereby creating a dull luster while the light gray silk taffeta does the opposite.  We hope to come across more interesting examples of this style so stay tuned. 🙂



Winter In The West

Day Three of #VictorianFebruary hosted by @ladyrebeccafashions is: “Winter”…well, Los Angeles isn’t that wintry, but when we want “weather”, we go to our house in Tombstone, AZ. Brrrrrrr! Old West Winter fun 🙂

At The Dressmaker’s Cottage at No. 11.

Outside of the Bird Cage Theater.

1890s Cape

At Big Nose Kate’s warming up with an Irish Coffee.

I’m afraid that’s pretty much it in the way of “winter” pictures- we just don’t get much weather weather in Southern California. 🙂


At The Atelier- In The Works

After a long winter of client work, I can finally share the specialty stuff, repurposing extant pieces from our museum collection. First step is to assess condition and strengthen, if need be. I’m seeing an 1890s day suit out of this silk faille and rare (all) silk velvet! 🙂

 

 



At The Atelier- Design Creation, Part 1

Every design starts out with an idea which in turn is transformed into a pattern block. Often when developing a new design, it’s necessary to revise the pattern after testing it out with a toille (aka mock-up) and sometimes this can be quite time-consuming, depending on the complexity of the design. Below is a rough idea of what we envision for the design. The pattern would be transformed into basic pattern blocks/sloper that could later be used to develop individual styles. Below is one source of design inspiration from the June 1892 issue of Demorest’s Family Magazine:

And onto the drafting…

The pattern has been drafted utilizing a period tailoring manual, in this case the 1895 edition of The Keystone Jacket and Dress Cutter by Charles Hecklinger. Now, it must be said that while Hecklinger provides fairly comprehensive details, you really have to parse some of his instructions because they ambiguous on first reading. Also, for the collar, I had to “fill in the blanks” with basic pattern drafting knowledge that’s not readily apparent in the book- this isn’t a complete cookbook for tailoring by any means but pre-supposes a lot of knowledge on specific details.

And now to put the pattern draft to the test and cut out the toille. I’ve traced out the pattern pieces onto muslin, adding a 1/2 inch seam allowance in the process.

The cut out pieces for the toille. Now to assemble them… 🙂

(To be continued…)



The New Woman Of The 1890s

Fashion history is integral part of what we do and it never fails to fascinate us. Although much of fashion can have interesting subtleties and nuances, at its core is that fashion reflects the zeitgeist or spirit of the times.


To the casual observer, the 1890s seemed to be little different from previous decades and was simply part of a monolithic seemingly never-ending “Victorian  Era.” However, the reality was far different and during this decade, major social, political, and economic changes were beginning to occur. Some changes would take decades to ultimately play out while others would occur at a much faster rate.

One of the most profound social changes during the 1890s was the rise of the “New Woman,” a woman who pursued an autonomous life independent from traditional marriage and motherhood. One key elements of the “New Woman” was that she was not economically dependent on a husband, pursuing an independent career. While this was the ideal, in practice it did not always work out this way but still it signaled a major change in women’s social roles. Along with this sense of independence, women also pursued leisure time activities outside of the home, something facilitated by the development of various sporting activities such as bicycling.

The rise of the New Woman was naturally reflected in the world of fashion. Most significantly, fashions began to become somewhat more functional (although the corset still remained part as an element of dress). With more women entering the workforce on the white collar level, more practical styles developed, the two most notable being the shirtwaist/skirt combination and the tailormade suit.

First, we turn to the shirtwaist/skirt combination. Shirtwaists were available in an almost endless multitude of styles and materials, the shirtwaist was a basic garment and available at prices for just about every wallet. Some were more feminine, featuring embroidery while others were meant to mimic men’s shirts. Fabrics could vary from sturdy cottons for day wear to silks and taffetas for more formal evening wear and came in white and various colors. Finally, sleeves tended to be larger around the shoulders during the early to mid 1890s, mimicking the distinct leg of mutton sleeve style found in dresses of the period.

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Shirtwaist, American, c. 1899 – 1902; Made of cotton; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.51.15.16a, b)

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Detachable Collar, Metropolitan Museum of Art

The above shirtwaist has a band collar, intended for use with a detachable collar as pictured below:

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Shirtwaist, c. 1890 – 1899; Fashion Institute of Design Museum (2003.793.7AB)

The above examples are interesting in that the pleating is gathered into a band along the bottom of the shirtwaist. This would be covered by the skirt, thus creating a crisp, neat appearance.

Now for something a bit more fancy:

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Shirtwaist, c. 1895; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.56.10.8)

And it came in colors, mostly cotton prints:

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Shirtwaist, c. 1896 – 1898; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.59.32.4)

The shirtwaist/skirt combination was extremely versatile and could be used as an early form of sportswear for activities such as golf:

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Shirtwaist and skirt combination with belt, c. 1893; Kyoto Costume Institute (AC2122 79-6-9AF, AC2123-2124 79-6-10AB)

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Charles Dana Gibson, once again…

  And of course, bicycling 🙂 :

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Charles Dana Gibson, 1896

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Unknown woman, probably early to mid 1890s, judging from the sleeves.

 Ties were sometimes worn with the shirtwaist for a more formal look:

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Radfahrkostüm (Bicycle costume), c. 1900; Wien Museum

Along with waists, walking suits also began to develop. Consisting of a multi-gored skirt and jacket and worn with a waist underneath, walking suits were extremely practical and were perfect for everyday wear outside of the house and especially for going to work. These were mass-produced at lower price points and made by tailors for individual order and were often referred to as “tailormades.”1The term “Ladies’ Tailor” was often used during the 1890s and it was a recognized sub-speciality in the tailoring trade.

Below are just a few examples of the walking suit:

Walking Suit, c. 1896; Nasjonallmuseet, Norway (OK-1962-0073)

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Walking Suit, c. 1892; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.53.72.9a–c)

Front Close-Up

The lines of the above suit are clean, the skirt relatively narrow although this could vary depending on the number of gores used Jackets could vary in style and overall, there is little adornment. Jackets cold be cut wide to expose the shirtwaist underneath s with the above example or more buttoned up as with the top example. Wide lapels were used to catch the eye and the trim patterns were often used to set them off. Overall, an understated look that reflected the rise of the “New Woman.”

Doucet

Doucet, Walking Suit, 1895; V&A Museum (T.15&A-1979)

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Another view.

Materials ranged from varying weights of wool to linen and cotton for the warmer parts of the year. Once again we see clean lines only now the skirt is perhaps a little wider and the sleeves taking on the leg of mutton style. There is little in the way of decorative adornments except for the lapels but even here it’s hard to make out.

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Suit, c. 1898; McCord Museum (M2003.12.2.1-2)

Finally, we have an example representative of the late 1890s. The lines of the suit are still clean only now both the skirt and sleeves are narrow and restrained. There is some decoration but it’s subtle. Also, like their male counterparts, Tailormades could also take the form of a three-piece suit:

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Finally, walking/tailormade suits also were a logical choice for women who wanted to ride bicycles and the market responded with some of the first examples of “sportswear”. Often, the only difference between the cycling suit and a regular tailormade suit was that the skirt was shorter. Below is one example:

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Cycling Suit, American, c. 1896 – 1898; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.532a–d)

The 1890s saw women taking on a more independent, autonomous existence and fashion followed this trend. While it fell short of what was to come during the mid to late 20th Century, it was still a major departure for women and one can see the traditional order of male/female relationships begin to shift. Fashion is constantly adapting to social change and the 1890s were no exception. The Victorian Era was definitely on its way out.