When I was a kid I thought the dresses from the “Gay ’90s” were really nifty. I loved the contrast between their teeny, tiny waists and those huge puffed sleeves. (As you can see, my interest in historic fashion started early on.) Over time, however, that style lost its appeal for me. But every once in a while I stumble across a mid-1890’s dress that catches my breath.
This is one of them. The fabric and trim are simple and understated – they let the style do the talking. I love how it looks simple and yet not simple at the same time. It says “summertime” to me and brings to mind leisurely strolls in the park, the women shadowed by lavishly embellished hats beneath delicate parasols and music – perhaps ragtime – coming from the bandstand. If I ever get this particular bug and decide to reproduce an 1890’s dress, this one is a prime candidate. (The photos are a bit blurry, but I love the dress and can’t find better.)
This 1895 cotton print dress was de-accessioned from a major New York City museum collection. Fabric has black pattern on white background. Bodice has full leg of mutton-styled sleeves and wide ruffle that encircles the shoulders. Bodice trimmed with black velvet inserts. Unlined; front button closure. Skirt has ruffled hemline and is unlined. (Description and photos by Extant Gowns)