All posts tagged: 1870s

Rate the Dress: Summer Whites of the 1870s

Huzzah!  We have a winner!  Last week I showed a court dress in black satin with gold embroidery, and, with only 4 out of 30 votes coming in at anything but a perfect 10, the dress scored a truly spectacular 9.8 out of 10, which is pretty much as close as I think we’ll ever get to a perfect 10!  (such a change from Charles of the week before, who actually did better than I thought – 6.3 out of 10, for “Fantastic outfit, wrong wearer” as HoiLei succinctly put it.) This dress is inspired by the recent weather: it has been HOT.  Not too bad in Wellington, but I spent the weekend in Hamilton and it was 30 degrees and 60% humidity, and I had models in period dress, and there was a lot of discussion about how you handled that kind of heat historically. Here is one example of how: Superficially this dress is the complete opposite of last weeks: light cotton instead of heavy silk, white instead of black, an overall impression of lightness …

Rate the Dress: Tassels, pleats, and pockets on an 1870s bustle

Last week I showed you an 18th century menswear ensemble, just making the transition from Rococo peacock to Regency Beau.  Reactions to the ensemble were quite mixed: you though the colours were the perfect balance of interest/hated them and thought them boring, adored the mix of pattern coordinating without matching/thought it clashed terrible, loved the slightly wacky hat and big buttons for the pop they gave the outfit/found the hat and buttons utterly awful and cartoonish.  Still, most of you really liked it (I think it’s just SO MUCH BETTER than most modern menswear (though we’re getting better) that it’s hard not to at least like it somewhat, so it came in at 7.8 out of 10. This week we’re going from slightly wacky menswear, to slightly wacky womenswear – with a little menswear inspiration. This mid-1870s bustle dress has a hint of militaria and menswear tailoring in the bodice, combined with the 1870s bustle silhouette at the height of excess trimmings.  The dress features not only a fascinating bit of centre back trim, elaborate jacket pleats, heavily …

A tale of sewing secrets revealed…

One of the things that I really love about fashion history is that clothes are both individual and societal stories.  There are general overall societal truths and trends, but there are also examples in every period of people creating things that were totally unique, making do, and making things up.  There are a lot of examples of quite unique innovations in early NZ fashion history, as people attempted to follow European fashions with limited resources and without access to a full range of materials and patterns. This particular story of someone’s clever make do, and the unfortunate reveal of their secret has always amused me. During the recent windy weather I was meandering along Kaponga Road in the evening when I espied a fair damsel turning the Bank corner.  She wore one of those arrangements the ladies call a ‘waterfall’ which the wind blew to one side, and shewed to my horrified gaze, a neatly tied bundle of straw, doing service as an improver. The story is recounted in Eve Ebbet’s In True Colonial Fashion: A Lively Look …