Your Weekend Wow!

You rise in the morning and, after a little yawn and a bit of a stretch, it’s time to go down to breakfast. It’s not necessary to dress fully for the day…not yet. One only needs to pop on something appropriate for the family, morning table and household duties until the social day begins. Something a bit like this.

Natural Form era (1877-1882) morning dress from Augusta Auctions, which provided this description: 1-piece, princess lines, trimmed w/ cream bobbin lace, low bustle back, CF thread-covered buttons, side pockets, trained & ruffled skirt, Back 32 inches, Waist 25 inches, Center Front Length 57″, Center Back Length 70 inches.

Sold at auction in 2014 for $210 USD. (Yes, really.) All photos by Augusta Auctions.

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The Evolution of the 1850’s Tiered Ruffle Gown

Crinolines on an Omnibus by Charles Vernier, 1850s.

Crinolines on an Omnibus by Charles Vernier, 1850s.

“I’ve been inspired by some recent froofy 1850s tiered dresses … probably not [for] Costume College as hoops can be bothersome in a crowded room or classroom.” – Val L.

When I started this adventure in learning about historical fashion a few years ago I had three distinct fashion allergies: hoops, ruffles and bows. Heavens, how that has changed. Now I see dresses and fashion plates featuring one, two or sometimes all three and think “I’d like to make that one.” This is a dangerous passion.

But Val’s comment above, made in reference to a recent post on Victorian summer dresses, is valid…not every venue is suitable for a hooped skirt. Luckily, hoops didn’t become The Fashion until the mid-1850s. (The generally agreed upon date seems to be 1856, although in Paris, where all things fashion come early and with no small amount of impact, they seem to have appeared a few years sooner.)

So, can Val have her froofy 1850s tiered dress and not wipe out an entire room of Costume College attendees? Yes!

Stiffened petticoats appeared in the 1830s in response to the need to support increasing skirt circumferences. They were made of horsehair and linen. The name “crinoline” was invented by one of the fabric’s manufacturers who combined the word crinis (hair) and linum (flax).

David Hough invented the cage crinoline and he earned a U.S. patent in 1846. By 1850 “crinoline” evolved to mean the rigid supporting structure itself. The next leap forward in design came in 1858, when W.S. Thompson developed an eye fastener so that the steel hoops could be hung with vertical tape…the familiar cage crinoline shape we recognize today. At that point, manufacturers were able to incorporate petticoat layers over the crinoline under-structure and the results were wildly successful. These “adjustable bustle and skirt” models were patented by Douglas & Sherwood in 1858:

Of course, tiered ruffles weren’t new in the 1850s. The 1840s saw plenty of tiered ruffles, albeit confined to the shape created by layers of petticoats (usually three) over a corded petticoat.

The 1850s saw changes to bodice shape and style, as well as underpinnings for the skirts. Mimi Matthews, who writes primarily on topics regarding the 19th century, gives an excellent guide to the evolution of general fashion during the 1850s in her blog article here.

So, when it comes to a froofy tiered 1850’s dress, cage crinolines aren’t necessarily required as long as you stick with a bodice appropriate for the earlier years. I don’t know about Val, but that is great news for me given my previous attempt at making a cage crinoline (which, as you may recall, ended in utter frustration).

Here are a few examples of tiered styles from the early 1850s – no hoops required!

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And here are styles from 1855, just as the cage crinoline was poised to become the definitive fashion necessity:

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And here are three more examples of tiered ruffle gowns of the period, dated only “1850s” (although I’d wager the center plate is from later in the decade, given the bodice on that fabulous plaid gown and the hair styles):

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Lastly, a gorgeous example – one of my favorites: a gown dated from 1855 (photos courtesy of Kent State University) which I was going to save for a Weekend Wow but, since I missed this weekend and we’re on the subject…

Dress ca. 1855 From the Kent State University Museum (fripperiesandfobs) - front

Dress ca. 1855 From the Kent State University Museum (fripperiesandfobs) - side

Dress ca. 1855 From the Kent State University Museum (fripperiesandfobs) - side back

Dress ca. 1855 From the Kent State University Museum (fripperiesandfobs) - back

More Victorian Summer Dresses!

This one is for Deb and everyone else who loves an Early Bustle Era summer dress. I’ve been meaning to post this all week, but things got a little crazy. Better late than never!

Summer dress ca. 1869 From 'Impressionism and Fashion' at the Musee d’Orsay.

Summer dress ca. 1869 From “Impressionism and Fashion” at the Musée d’Orsay.

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Summer dress, 1872-74 From the Musée du Costume et de la Dentelle via BrusselsLife.

Summer dress, 1872-74 From the Musée du Costume et de la Dentelle via BrusselsLife.

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Summer dress, French, ca. 1872. White cotton batiste in small floral print, silk ribbon. Photo Stephan Klonk. Art Library, National Museums of Berlin, via Europeana Fashion. (Very similar to the first dress, but different.)

Summer dress, French, ca. 1872. White cotton batiste in small floral print, silk ribbon. Photo Stephan Klonk. Art Library, National Museums of Berlin, via Europeana Fashion. (Very similar to the first dress, but different.)

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A blue and white striped gauze summer gown, circa 1870, the bodice with square neckline, flounced sleeves, peplum trimmed with blue satin, blue ribbon belt with later added bow.

A blue and white striped gauze summer gown, circa 1870, the bodice with square neckline, flounced sleeves, peplum trimmed with blue satin, blue ribbon belt with later added bow.

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Dress, 1872. Light blue cotton, broderie anglaise, grosgrain ribbon in light gray silk. (Too bad they didn't display it with a proper bustle.)

Dress, 1872. Light blue cotton, broderie anglaise, grosgrain ribbon in light gray silk. (Too bad they didn’t display it with a proper bustle.)

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 Organdy American, 1870s. (Apologies for the it blurry photo, it was the only one I found.)

Organdy American, 1870s. (Apologies for the it blurry photo, it was the only one I found.)

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Day dress ca. 1869. From the Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti via Europeana Fashion.

Day dress ca. 1869. From the Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti via Europeana Fashion.

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Summer tea gown. (No other information or source material available.)

Summer tea gown. (No other information or source material available.)

Your Weekend Wow!

I’ve been out of commission for a couple of weeks and haven’t been able to do much of anything, including staying on top on my dear blog. Happily, things are getting back to normal and I’ll be able to catch up soon.

Meanwhile, it’s summer and up here in the Northern Hemisphere it is hot, hot, hot. So this delicate, sheer dress caught my eye as a perfect antidote to layer upon layer of silk and cotton. It’s just so very…summery!

Dress, French, ca. 1872. Cotton and porcelain (I assume they are referring to the buttons). Photos and information from The Met, metmuseum.org.

Here are the Met’s description and comments:

The 1870s was a period of marked romanticism and whimsy in fashionable dress. Much like the picturesque paintings of Renoir that depict such confectionary creations, both day and evening gowns were highly ornamented and often executed in delicate, feminine textiles. Though eveningwear was marked by décolleté necklines and lavish silk satins and taffetas, day dresses were made more modest with austere fabrics like cotton or wool. While many women owned walking and traveling dresses which afforded slightly greater moveability, also quite common was the summer day dress that was to be worn to an afternoon tea or reception.

This garment, emblematic of warm weather day dresses of the period with its sheer printed cotton and delicate lace trim, is a particularly pristine example, and notable for its clear revival of eighteenth–century aesthetic sensibilites. The late nineteenth century, abetted by the luxury and progress of the Industrial Age, recalled distinctly, both in its textiles and in the etiquette that surrounded fashionable dress, the notorious material excesses of the third quarter of the eighteenth century. The wealthy classes of the late–nineteenth–century showed a particular respect for the formalities of fashion. While their garments were not nearly as ornamental and their entertaining circles not as elitist, the decorative effects of late nineteenth century afternoon reception dresses such as this one unarguably echoed the lavishness of the eighteenth–century gown, most notably here in the sleeve and neckline.

Your Weekend Wow!

I’ve never quite understood those early 1890’s shoulders with their massive, poofy tops. Later in the 1890’s, when the enormous leg-o-mutton sleeves were in vogue, the gathered fabric accounted for the fullness at the sleeve cap. But early in the decade such was not the case. Then this morning I found this and it all made sense. Not to mention it reminds me of spring, too.

Afternoon dress ca. 1892. Brocaded silk satin & velvet. Chiffon blouse with tailored jacket built onto it. Self-ribbons on jacket shoulders, which was common in the early 1890s. Decorative enamel buttons. Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum.

Afternoon dress ca. 1892. Brocaded silk satin & velvet. Chiffon blouse with tailored jacket built onto it. Self-ribbons on jacket shoulders, which was common in the early 1890s. Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum

Your Weekend Wow!

This weekend I’m in the mood for bonnets – lovely springtime bonnets sprinkled with flowers.

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Straw Bonnet, 1835-49. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Straw Bonnet, 1835-49. metmuseum.org

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Wedding Bonnet, 1845. The Victoria & Albert Museum.

Wedding Bonnet 1845 The Victoria & Albert Museum

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Poke Bonnet, 1850’s. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Poke Bonnet, 1865. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Poke Bonnet 1865 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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A beautiful, delicate sheer lace bonnet from 1840.

A beautiful, delicate sheer lace bonnet from 1840.

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Bonnet, ca. 1840, France. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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Your Weekend Wow!

How lovely it would be to have a little something special in which to rattle around the house. (Not exactly my best color, but I’d probably manage to cope…)

Dressing gown, 1879. Made in Japan for the Western market. Silk. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 2009.300.71a, b. Click on link to access enlarged views.

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detail, bodice back

Your Weekend Wow!

Here’s the question: Do we no longer use beautiful parasols because we no longer promenade? Or do we no longer promenade because we no longer use beautiful parasols? (Place cursor over each image for more information.)

Your Weekend Wow – The Victorian Heritage Festival and Fashion Show Report

Who says historical costumers are dull?! (Agnes Gawes, Valarie LaBore and Mara Perry)

Think historic costumers are dull? Not! (Agnes Gawne, Valarie LaBore & Mara Perry ham it up at the Commender’s Beach House.)

I finally got around to downloading my photos from the Victorian Heritage Festival! Ever since I upgraded to Windows 10, the only way I can manage and attach images from my camera is to download them in one big chunk, then copy them individually to my desktop and go from there. It’s a pain and takes forever but it’s done. Better a bit late than never (I hope).

The Heritage Festival

The weather was cool and a bit breezy, but no rain. Unfortunately, this year seemed a bit lackluster. Not nearly as many people promenading downtown in period dress. And many of those in costume went Steampunk or in Edwardian dress which, on the one hand, bugs me a bit (since it’s not true Victorian) but, on the other hand, it’s a weekend for fun and if Victorian Steampunk or Edwardian floats their boat then OK. A lot of locals didn’t even know about the festival. I think perhaps better advertising is called for.

A number of demonstrations were ongoing, but they were held in a dark room that prevented photos without harsh flash lighting. I did get to play with an antique treadle sewing machine, which only made we want one more (and taught me I definitely want one that is capable of operating in reverse – the earliest ones didn’t and, as a result, jam quite easily as I proved…repeatedly).

One nifty feature was a gentleman who took photographs using genuine antique equipment and processed them as was done at the time. Unfortunately, the unreliability of the process meant many re-takes and the line was long. But it was fascinating to watch.

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Valarie LaBore – Watches and How Women Wore Them

Val LaBore, who many of you may know from Costume College, gave an excellent presentation on watches. It’s a detail often overlooked, but once you start paying specific attention to old photos and paintings it’s amazing to see how many women are wearing watches. And how they wore them changed with time. Val’s presentation spanned from the 1500’s to the 1920’s and included not only a great range of photos and paintings, but extant examples. You might think this a bit of an exotic topic, but the room was packed with both women and men.

For more info on how watches were worn, visit Val’s “Watches and Watch Chains” Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/timetravels/watches-watch-chains/ (with info and images of both men and women).

High Tea at the Commander’s Beach House

I didn’t get my bustle dress finished and wasn’t seated at the “costumed” table, but the ladies I did have tea with were delightful and I got so carried away that I missed taking photos of the table with everyone in period dress. Rats! But I did get some nice photos with Agnes Gawne, Valarie LaBore and Mara Perry – all in period dress they personally made.

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The Victorian Fashion Show

I feel the need to apologize ahead for the quality of these photos. The fashion show is held in the local First Presbyterian church, which was built in the late 1890’s so although the interior is great, the lighting isn’t geared towards photography. The stained glass windows cast a golden glow on everything, so colors are often skewed a bit, and it’s just dark enough that sometimes the camera speed stops down and I end up with blurs. Even professional photographers run into these problems, so at least I’m not alone. I will say the pipe organ is pretty darned impressive.

Most of the participants either made their garments or wore extant garments, be they purchased or handed down through family. There was some truly magnificent work and I’m disappointed that most of it doesn’t show half as nice as it looked. I also regret not being able to get a photo of everyone who participated. But here’s an example of the costuming talent on display. It is wonderful to see to many men participating – more every year.

Included in the fashion show were examples of traditional Norwegian dress (the Bunad), as large areas nearby were settled by Norwegian immigrants.

The finale!

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Antique Finds: Photos and a Fashion Plate

A few days ago I was itching to get out of the house. The weather was gorgeous and I had a serious case of cabin fever, so I decided to check out an antique mall I’d heard about in a town close by. Just as I approached the front door a woman came from inside the mall and locked the door. They were closing early in order to attend their son’s baseball game. Bah! So I ended up wandering into the Brocante shop next door and spent an hour wandering around and pawing through things.

I found some great photographs. This one interested me because of the way she’s wearing her watch – suspended in loops from what looks like a bar pin at her neck. (More on this photo later.)

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This one had to come home with me – such a great portrait of the two couples. Love those hats!

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I bought this one because the hem on the woman’s sleeves is so long it covers her knuckles, much like in Regency fashions, and I’d not seen anything like it before.

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And this one is such a great photo I couldn’t say no. It’s dated 1912 on the back, but the style looks more like 1915-ish to me. Doesn’t matter – the 2-piece dress and big ruffle-y hat are marvelous. I love she’s wearing gloves. Too bad the feet are too blurry to really see the shoes (boots?).

1912-1915

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I also discovered a Miroir des Modes fashion plate from the 1850’s in a very old frame. The glass needs a good cleaning, but the print isn’t foxed or otherwise damaged. The colors are still bright, I liked the dresses and the price was incredibly low. So it went in the bag with the photos.

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Not bad for a little jaunt to get out of the house, huh?