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