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.
When it comes to plaid, I’m hopeless. I love it – the bigger and the bolder, the better. So how could I resist this stroke of 1830’s brilliance? Despite a sleeve shape that tends to annoy my eye, it’s a visual knockout. Don’t know that I’d ever wear something like this, but what fun!
Silk dress. 1830, British. Accession number: 1971.47.1a, b. The Met Museum.
Today, a sparkling evening gown from the House of Worth. I chose this dress for two reasons: 1) it’s made for someone who had a “normal” figure and 2) the museum provided lots of photos which show construction details in clear close-ups, which is rare. The last one, which shows how the sequins were applied onto the fine gauze/net, blows my mind. This is another gown that must have been stunning in the muted light of evening parties. All photos courtesy of The Met Museum (www.metmuseum.org). I wish they were in crisper black and white and not so sepia in tone, but so it goes.
Evening dress, House of Worth (French, 1858–1956), 1906. Silk and cotton. Accession number: C.I.50.1.4a, b.
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.
OK, enough with the embroidery fetish already. This weekend’s dress is one you’ve probably seen before, but I simply adore it and have from the first time I saw it. I love the changeable silk and every single meticulous detail. It is in my heart and always will be.
This 1840’s green changeable silk dress was acquired from the Tasha Tudor Historic Costume Collection and was later offered at auction by Augusta Auctions, where it fetched $18,400.00 USD. I may not be able to “play” at that level, but I can surely lust after it from afar.
Here is the auction catalog description. All photos courtesy of Augusta Auctions, Inc.
Ribbed silk taffeta woven with light green and gold in opposing directions, collarless deep V neckline, long fitted sleeves, ruffled caps laced with tassled cords, sleeves lace with cord above wrists, fitted bodice ending in shallow center front point, pleated, ruffled and cord trimmed fabric radiates from center bodice point to shoulders, full gathered skirt trimmed with two vertical rows of self fabric bows down center front, piped seams, full glazed linen lining, (minor spots) excellent.
I’m still feeling the love for embroidery that summer always brings out in me. This one is especially eye-catching with a dramatic use of bold color on black. And it’s from the 1940’s which is fashion era I like but about which I rarely post. I love the clean lines and that subtle little ruffle of netting at the front neckline. It’s from The Met and, again, the information is skimpy.
American 1940’s Cocktail Dress by Hattie Carnegie, Inc. Silk. Length: 36 in. (91.4 cm). Accession number: 1994.153. All photos courtesy of metmuseum.org.
In the early 19th century the custom and standard was for married women to cover their hair with a light cap. Caps were worn in the house and covered with a bonnet when going out-of-doors. Fashion, location and economic status dictated shape, materials and construction so, thankfully, quite a range of surviving examples exist. But I rarely see one photographed to show clear, close-up detail. Thanks to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, one such image is available.
And for those of us who have wondered just how fine cotton mull was, this provides the answer. The net inserts look coarse in comparison.
Woman’s cap, American, about 1815. Embroidered mull cap with puffed crown and ruffled edge; circular floral pattern embroidered at top of crown with lace insertions in blossoms and eyelets; seven diamond-shaped puffed net inserts around crown; band of eyelets with leaf motifs within overall pattern of V-shaped motifs; lace ruffle at edge. Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States; Place of Manufacture: (fabric) probably India. Accession number: 49.956.
My personal 18th century “wowza-palooza” continues with this delightful bergère, also from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Absolutely incredible. ‘Nuff said.
Woman’s feather hat (bergère). English or French, 1750-1775. Round disk-like hat with crown only slightly elevated, foundation of linen completely covered with polychrome feathers; lined with pale pink taffeta, one pale pink silk ribbon. Silk ribbon, linen, feathers, and silk faille lining. Dimensions: 35 x 35 x 2 cm (13 3/4 x 13 3/4 x 13/16 in.). Accession number: 43.1832.
Thanks to recent posts by A Damsel in This Dress and The Quintessential Clothes Pen on their recent historically costumed experience at Versailles (more on that later) I’ve been having a bit of an 18th century moment. One that’s lasting beyond a mere moment, as a matter of fact. So when I saw this yesterday I knew it had a place right here. Sadly, there are no photos of the interior. But it’s truly a work of art nonetheless and it’s equally amazing that it survived in such magnificent condition.
Pocketbook, French, 1725-1775. Rectangular envelope style pocketbook. Polychrome opaque and translucent glass beads strung with linen thread, held together by interlocking looping stitches (sablé). Design on white ground: lovebirds with heart and floral swag above (front); peacock and floral swag above (back), both have rocaille border with cornucopias; floral and rocaille motif (flap). Gilt-galloon binding. Blue silk taffeta lining and side panels. Cardboard foundation. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (mfa.org). Click on the link for mind-boggling close up detail.
Most of you know that the American Civil War years (1860-1864) aren’t exactly a fashion favorite of mine. However, every so often I see a dress from that era that entirely works for me. This is one. It’s from the Met who, sadly, provides little information. But we can still enjoy it.
I love being able to see close details of the fabric and construction. I love the “rail fence” trim with the laced cording and how the tassels hang right to the hemline. And I’m thrilled they’ve chosen to photograph it with the correct hoop and undergarment support. Yes, the hoop is more much elliptical than circular, which it “shouldn’t” be for a few more years, but the hem is even so they must have got it right. Chalk it up to the fashion-forward French. (All photos from www.metmuseum.org.)
Silk dress, French, c. 1862.