All posts filed under: 19th Century

Rate the Dress: A visit to Paris, ca 1890

Last week I showed you a luxurious silk frock inspired by simple folk embroidery.  The scores were all over the place: mad love, complete revulsion.  Quite a few of you expressed doubt that it would look good on most women, which didn’t help its score.  Overall, the dress came in at 6.9 out of 10 – very close to the 7 that was the most commonly given score. This week, we’re leaving peasant chic behind, and going very upscale: Paris couturier fashions in the 1890s.  It’s not quite Worth, but this gown reflects the decadence of late 19th fashion that he helped to inspire, and the caché that his work lent to Parisian fashions. This gown was purchased by American heiress Cara Leland (née Rogers) Broughton, either on a European tour just before her first marriage, or after she was widowed a year later in 1891, but  before she married (only slightly) upper class Englishman, Urban H Broughton in 1895.  His work as an MP and during WWI led to Cara being given the title of Lady Fairhaven after …

The ‘Downs Self Adjusting Corset’

Sometimes having friends who point out things that you might be interested in is fabulous.  And sometimes it is…dangerous. Like when you are just going along, minding your own business, not finding things that you don’t need to buy on Trademe, and then a friend emails you and says “Just saw this auction and thought of you!”  And the auction is corset advertising cards from the early 1880s.  And you say “thanks, but I really don’t need them”.  And you keep saying that.  And then somehow (you really can’t explain it, it was like an out of body experience) you end up buying them. So now I am the proud/slightly ashamed owner of two ‘Downs Self Adjusting Corset’ trading cards from the early 1880s. The first one features a fashionable (albeit slightly garishly clad) lass and her pug on a quest for a Downs self adjusting corset’: And the second one features a smug miss who has already achieved the goal (an accomplishment which has inexplicably earned her a pair of over-the-sleeve bracelets and an ermine trimmed …

Rate the Dress: Rich wrappings, ca. 1840

Last week I showed you a rather ridiculous (in a practical sense) 18th century riding outfit in white and pale blue-green.  You thought the hat was a bit skunk-y, and the lapels a bit rumpled, and the horse just plain un-horse-y, but that overall it was quite something (in a good way) and came in at 8.8 out of 10. This week I present a ca. 1840s dress in rich plum purple silk satin. The dress keeps the embellishment to a minimum, relying on self-fabric piping trim on the sleeves, and an pleated wrap front opening for visual interest. There are some interesting elements to the dress – parts of it are quite fashion forward for 1840, and other elements look backwards to the 1830s.  The garment may have belonged to an older woman, who was more comfortable in simple, conservative styles.