Your Weekend Wow!

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)

1895 dress

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6 thoughts on “Your Weekend Wow!

  1. The 1890’s are one of my favorite decades to look at visually. I didn’t think I’d like wearing sleeves bigger than my head until I recreated a dress a month ago. Oh my! So much fun. Not only does it help those of us that are top heavy (massive sleeves make everything else look smaller) but you’ll find yourself “puffing” up your sleeves every half hour or so to make sure they are big enough.

    • I think it is by far and away the best fashion style for visually shrinking the waistline. Even though the sleeves are crazy big, and require their own internal support system, when combined with the flared skirt the resulting exaggerated hourglass figure is an undeniable success. At long last, I may have found a way to disguise my wide-ish shoulders. 😉

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