Rate the Dress: Charles Worth in 1897

Last week I showed you a striped 1860s number, and pointed out that the stripes weren’t aligned as we would expect them to be.  Oh foolish me!  Having had it pointed out, you all obsessed about the stripe placement, and were rather harsh on the poor gown (I know there was a tiny mis-match as well, but other than that, I actually though the unusual stripe action on the chevrons made the gown far more interesting and dynamic than a ‘normal’ stripe placement).  Beyond the stripes, some of you decried it as quite dull and blah.  Poor frock!  Some did love it though so it managed a 7.4 out of 10.

I’m quite obsessed with the late 1890s at the moment: the stiff, A-line skirts, the focus on menswear inspired tailoring, the pleating, the peculiar puffed sleeves.

This House of Worth evening gown from ca. 1897 is the perfect summation of the whole look.  The skirt, with its heavy folds and widening gores.  The juxtaposition of the über-feminine pink floral warp-patterned silk with a strong, tailored silhouette.

Evening dress House of Worth ca. 1897, silk & linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.638.a.b

Evening dress House of Worth ca. 1897, silk & linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.638.a.b

The bodice which manages to be inspired both by men’s jackets and waistcoats, and 18th century stomachers and redingotes.  The sleeves: ruched below, surmounted by faux-renaissance puffs, with bands of lace forming slashings.

Evening dress, House of Worth, ca. 1897, silk & linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.638.a.b

Evening dress, House of Worth, ca. 1897, silk & linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.638.a.b

And finally, the skirt pleats, perfectly framing repeats of the floral pattern.

Evening dress, House of Worth, ca. 1897, silk & linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.638.a.b

Evening dress, House of Worth, ca. 1897, silk & linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.638.a.b

It’s quite a dress: feminine, masculine, multi-period historical, both ornate and paradoxically severe.

Evening dress, House of Worth, ca. 1897, silk & linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.638.a.b

Evening dress, House of Worth, ca. 1897, silk & linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.638.a.b

What do you think of it?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.

What a girl should wear, ca. 1907

I’ve been digging around in my stash of pages from the Girl’s Own Magazine, and came across these glorious evening gowns:

IMG_4452

 

Aren’t the butterfly gathers across the bust of dark one just delicious?  And the decorative band on the light one, ducking in and out behind the bodice and sleeves?  And those droop puffed sleeves!  Fabulous!

I’m not sure about the merits of having a big circle on your chest though!

And just so you can read the fabulously hilarious write-up (“nothing flops this years but our sleeves”), here is the whole page in large size.

Evening gowns featured in the Girls Own Magazine thedreamstress.com

 

I’m 90% sure this is from sometime between Aug-December 1907.  Unfortunately my Girl’s Own Magazine pages from 1905-7 are an incomplete set of loose pages.  I’ve put them in the best order I can, but some I just have to guess at.

 

Karen’s Gift: the butter yellow 1930s/40s negligée

Over a year ago I received an email out of the blue from a blog reader who had a small collection of 20s & 30s clothes that she thought I might like.

Would I ever!  That lovely lady was Karen, and the day her box arrived was like all my birthdays coming at once (only without any additional wrinkles or grey hairs): silks and velvets and beading and lace.

The contents were a treasure trove of amazing pieces, in all my favourite colours and techniques.  I photographed them right away, and have been meaning to share them with you ever since, but I’ve just been continually too busy this year.

I finally got all the photos sorted for one of my favourite items (who am I kidding, they are ALL my favourite items!) and was going to show it to you to coincide with the HSF Yellow challenge, and then internet in Vanuatu was too expensive to upload them.

So, a little late, but no less deliciously gorgeous, I present this 1930s/40s silk negligée  in butter yellow.

Leron Fifth Avenue 1930s negligee thedreamstress.com

 

(is negligée the right thing to call it?  I mean, you can’t quite call something like this a nightgown, but I always think of a negligée as opening up the front)

Léron Fifth Avenue 1930s negligee thedreamstress.com

The really interesting thing about this is that it is entirely hand-sewn, but it’s not homemade.  It bears the label of ‘Léron / Fifth Ave. New York’

Léron Fifth Avenue 1930s negligee thedreamstress.com

 

This (along with the silk)  indicates that it would have been an extremely expensive and luxurious item in its time – practically couture (and true couture is still hugely handsewn).  Once sewing machines became common, handsewing became a status symbol.  L.M. Montgomery stories have a number of mentions of baby clothes or wedding trousseaus with ‘every stitch by hand.’

Léron Fifth Avenue 1930s negligee thedreamstress.com

 

The stitching is beautifully done – fine, even and perfect.  From the tiny piped bands that control the gathers of the bodice…

Léron Fifth Avenue 1930s negligee thedreamstress.com

…And the perfectly even binding and minute gathers…

Léron Fifth Avenue 1930s negligee thedreamstress.com

…To the pinstitching attaching the chiffon bodice to the skirt…

Léron Fifth Avenue 1930s negligee thedreamstress.com

 

And finally, to the the tiny rolled hem…

 

Léron Fifth Avenue 1930s negligee thedreamstress.com

 

…The sewing is clearly the work of a consummate needlewoman.

I suspect that the negligée may very well have belonged to a bride.  There is something about the colours and cut that is very youthful and innocent.  Other than her honeymoon or in a Disney fairytale where she’s bouncing out of bed to throw open the shutters and sing while birds perch on her outstretched hands, I can’t imagine when a girl would wear this!

Léron Fifth Avenue 1930s negligee thedreamstress.com

 

Today you could easily wear this as an evening dress, or even a wedding dress, and with a slip underneath, few people would realise that it was originally little more than a slip itself!

Léron Fifth Avenue 1930s negligee thedreamstress.com

 

And so turns fashion!

 

Léron Fifth Avenue 1930s negligee thedreamstress.com

 

Thank you a million times to Karen for giving me this amazing piece to study and share.  It brings me a little happiness and sunshine every time I think of it: the lovely yellow, and that long ago seamstress, making her living with perfect stitches.

If you want to see a few more pieces of vintage beautifulness in my collection, check out my posts on Elise’s giftTheresa’s 1915 dress, and Lynne’s quilted petticoat.

 

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Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

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