Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A real dress for c 1885

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Loretta reports:

Last week I presented fashions for September 1880.  My motives were ulterior, because I had a real dress to show you from the decade, having recently visited Historic Deerfield, to view the exhibition Celebrating the Fiber Arts: The Helen Geier Flynt Textile  Gallery.*  In the course of our perambulations, my companions and I came upon with this beautifully made silk taffeta dress. We were struck especially by the carefully matched stripes. 

It's always instructive to compare actual clothing with fashion plates.  Among other things, this reminds us that women's figures seldom bore a resemblance to those in the plates.  Though we rarely see fashion illustrations today, I'd use the analogy of store mannequins, who do not resemble the majority of women.  

The identification card doesn’t indicate what the dress’s function was, but I think we can safely rule out evening wear.  As to day wear, a dress for visiting or walking? Without accessories, it's hard for me to tell.  Our historic dress experts familiar with this era will probably be able to point out clues invisible to amateurs, no matter how nerdy we are.  In any event, feel free to propose your theory.

For more later-Victorian-era dress, please see posts here, here, and here.

Clicking on the image will enlarge it, but this is about as light as it gets.  The Flynt Textile Gallery permits photos, but without flash, and the lighting is subdued, to protect the fragile materials.  If you are in the area, a visit will show you this and other items in all their rich color and texture.

*on view until 28 December 2014



Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Beautiful dress! I know fashions were merciless on women and probably a misery to wear in the Victorian Era, but they did look lovely. I'd be interested to know exactly where one would wear a dress like this? A "walking suit"? "day dress?" I'll look forward to answers from those who know more than I do. :-)

sewingdragon said...

As you say, a great job with the stripes. Fashion sketches usually show stripes as vertical throughout a garment, but the reality is that pattern pieces and bodies have curves.

AuntieNan said...

Actually, we do have fashion illustrations, and very merciless ones. Thanks to Photoshop, the pictures in magazines are just as fantastical as anything in Godey's.
Gorgeous dress, thanks so much for the post!
Nancy N

Elinor Aspen said...

How stunning! I would love to have a dress like that.

Two Nerdy History Girls. Design by Pocket