Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Woman's dress, late 1850s

A day dress of printed wool muslin, worn with patterned silk shawl, straw bonnet, kid leather gloves and a folding parasol.

Small parasols, with silk canopies (often trimmed with a deep silk fringe) and ivory handles were used when travelling in a carriage. The jointed handles allowed them to be folded up in an enclosed space.

Both parasols and deep-brimmed bonnets shielded the face from the sun – a suntan and freckles were not admired at this period.

Women's day dresses, 1830s

The dress of printed wool, on the left, worn with a white embroidered cotton pelerine collar shows the full ‘gigot’ or leg-of-mutton sleeve fashionable in the mid 1830s.

By the end of the decade, sleeves were much more closely fitting as seen in the green and purple printed wool dress of about 1838, on the right. This is worn with a wide-brimmed bonnet of finely plaited straw trimmed with silk ribbon, and a printed wool shawl.

This was the style of dress fashionable when the young Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837.

Silk pelisse, 1810 - 1815

The pelisse was a type of light overcoat fashionable at this time. It was cut on similar lines to the dress, with a short waistline, long sleeves and a high neck. This pelisse is made of a soft twilled silk called ‘sarsenet’ (often mentioned by Jane Austen in her novels and letters of the same period). These coats were usually lined and were sometimes interlined with lambswool so they were probably warmer than they might appear.

Women's dresses, 1870s

These three fashionable day dresses show how the bustle replaced the crinoline to create a new shape of skirt in the 1870s: flatter at the front and fuller at the back.

As the crinoline passed out of fashion in the late 1860s, a new type of support, known as the bustle, was worn under the skirt. The bustle could take several different forms, such as stiff frills of horsehair cloth or small wire frames.