Trending For February 1890

Today we step forward into February 1890 as we feature more winter-themed fashions from the February 1890 issue of Peterson’s Magazine:

Petersons_Feb 1890

Peterson’s Magazine, February 1890

Fig. I- VISITING DRESS OF STEEL- GRAY SICILIENNE, the side-panels of which are trimmed with a gray-and-steel gimp. The dark-red plush mantle is ornamented with steel passementerie and Alaska sable. Steel ornaments in the hair.

Fig. II- HOUSE-DRESS, OF LIGHT-BLUE NUN’S-VEILING, for a young lady. The skirt is ornamented with gimp stars or may be braided, and it opens on the right side over but is faced with drawn velvet and trimmed plaitings [pleatings] of blue silk. The bodice is made with a little fullness about the armholes and crosses from the left shoulder to the right side. A sash of blue silk ties at the back. The sleeves are straight, with full puffs at the top, finished by bows of ribbon.

Fig. III- HOUSE-DRESS, OF LIGHT-YELLOW BENGALINE AND PLAID SILK OF YELLOW SHADES. The sides and the back of the skirt and the sleeves are made of the bengaline, the front and part of the fullness at the back are of the plaid silk, and the front side-panels are of the silk, with turned-back facings of bengaline fastened with large ornamental buttons. The bodice, wide revers, and cuffs being ornamented with large buttons; the broad open collar is of crèpe-lisse.

Fig. IV- WALKING-DRESS, OF DARK-GREEN CLOTH, opening in front over a light-green woolen skirt, trimmed with a wide figured band woven in the material. The skirt is edged on either side with bands of chinchilla fur. The close-fitting bodice opens over a vest of the light-green, and has revers of narrow woven trimming. The broad collar is trimmed in a similar style. Rather full high sleeves. Hat of dark-green velvet, ornamented with light-green feathers.

Fig. V- CARRIAGE DRESS OF REDDISH-BROWN VELVET, with facings down the front of light fawn-colored sicilienne; these facings are trimmed with rows of gimp, finished at the end with small buttons. The plaiting down the front is of reddish-brown silk. The bodice, which is round at the waist, opens over a vest of sicilienne trimmed to correspond with the facings on the front, and has large revers, which open over a soft silk vest of the same color. High loose sleeves, with sicilienne cuffs. Bonnet of reddish-brown velvet, trimmed with gold lace and velvet bows. This costume, made in cloth of the two colors, is very stylish.

Starting with Figure I, we have a formal visiting dress made of a light gray (if we go by the fashion plate) sicilienne and trimmed with steel gimp. With a cold gray trimmed with steel-colored gimp, this dress is definitely a winter dress. However, this somewhat severe dress is countered by a dark-red mantel trimmed in sable and it is the first part of the figure that catches the eye.

Figure II illustrates one of the more common house dress styles common in early 1890s with its faux robe appearance being created by double-breasted bodice. The sleeves are the shoulders are full and are suggestive of the more extreme leg-of-mutton styles that were to develop during the mid-1890s. The skirt appears to be a double-skirt, at lest in the front, with a pleated under skirt being revealed under the overskirt in the front.

Interestingly enough, the dress is constructed from a light blue Nun’s Veiling (which was synonymous with Nun’s Cloth). Originally named for the varge veils worn by nuns, it was a mixed plain weave cloth woven with cotton warp yarns and wool worsted weft yarns and has a soft, fine hand. This cloth usually came in light colors and was especially popular for use in dresses for young women.

Another variety of house dress is illustrated in Figure III. The basic fashion fabric is a light yellow bengaline combined with panels of light yellow plaid silk. The neckline is trimmed with a crèpe-lisse. This is a simple dress meant for wear at home rather than conducting formal visits or other business. The use of alternating plaid panels is imaginative and livens up what would be an otherwise plain dress.

The walking dress in Figure IV stands in contrast to the house dresses in Figures II and III with its dark green wool bodice opening over a vest of lighter green wool, a fairly typical combination. The overskirt also opens in the front to reveal a lighter underskirt in the same light green color as the vest. Although there is no sash creating the “robe” style that we have been seeing in many fashion plates, the effect is still one of vertical flow from neck to hem.

Of all the five dresses in this plate, the carriage dress in Figure V is the most elaborate. The bodice is of a reddish-brown (rust in reality) velvet trimmed with fawn-colored sicilienne facings. The bodice opens to reveal a vest made of the same sicilienne fabric. The overskirt is also constructed of the same rust-colored velvet while the underskirt is of the same fawn-colored sicilienne. Also, the front of the skirt is trimmed in pleated silk bands. Unfortunately, the plate does not effectively portray the written description.

Fawn (Reconstructed on Computer)

Rust, Burnt Umber, or “Reddish-Brown”- It’s all a matter of interpretation.

In the end, one could say that this dress was one that was meant to impress and especially with the use of two different, contrasting fabrics.

In future posts we will be delving into these fashions some more and adding further supplemental information so stay tuned. 🙂



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