Thursday, August 2, 2018

Fashions for August 1885

Thursday, August 2, 2018
August 1885 fashions
Loretta reports:

C. Willett Cunnington, in English Women’s Clothing in the Nineteen Century, expresses no affection for the fashions of this period. “To appreciate the Bustle Era of the ‘80’s, now at its height, it is necessary to recognize that it was accepted as an alternative to the greater horror of the crinoline. The latter would have made the tailor-made walking dress and impossibility whereas with this excrescence behind progress forward was still possible.”

In introducing us to the 1880s, he writes, “The fashions of the ‘80’s were more remote than those of any other decade from modern standards of taste.” According to him, “The principle was strict, that beauty should make no passionate appeal. The epoch was, above all others, anti-anatomical.”

Not quite the way I see it, but every era has its own interpretation of fashion, and we need to put this fashion historian’s observations in the context of his time. The book was published in 1937.

Fashion plates are from the August 1885 issue of The London and Paris Ladies' Magazine of Fashion, which included back views of the dresses, as you see.
Fashion plate description

Fashion plate description cont'd
Reverse of fashions
Broché: woven with a raised figure; brocade
Crepon: a heavy crepe fabric with lengthwise crinkles
Surah: a soft, twilled silk or rayon fabric

I apologize for the small, blurry description images, and recommend you click on the links for better pictures.
Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed. And, just so you know, if you order a book through one of my posts, I might get a small share of the sale.


Rosefolly said...

It almost hurts to look at those dresses, doesn't it. Just imagine carrying the huge weight of the dresses Second Bustle Era, and dragging it around everywhere you go!

Amanda said...

I love that Cunnington book, both for the objective details it gives about clothing, and for Cunnington's opinion of historical styles through the lens of the 1930s!

(Well, I love the whole "clothing is exclusively made because of sex attraction/let's look at how woman dressed to please MAN in these funny old times!" theme of the commentary, but...taken with that grain of salt it's still a very informative book.)

Amanda said...

Ugh, that's supposed to be "love that theme LESS"..

Loretta Chase said...

I agree, Amanda, that the Cunnington books are very useful. Yes, he has his 1930s opinions, but those are interesting as perspectives on his time. Also, he includes so much information from the eras he covers. We get the fashion descriptions as well as the commentary from the period itself. Not sure there's anybody in recent times who's done books with this wealth of detail. If there is, please tell me!

Loretta Chase said...

Rosefolly, I think the dress historians can give you a detailed explanation, but as I understand it, the underpinnings of these garments, while involving more layers than modern apparel, weren't extremely heavy. The bustles were made of light materials, and springy. And it would depend on what you're used to. Wearing this for the first time, we might find it awkward and heavy, but if this is the way one dresses all the time, it's just normal. Re-enactors would be able to tell us more, so I hope some chime in at some point.

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