All posts tagged: 1880s

Rate the Dress: Restrained florals and bows in 1888

Last week I showed you an 1820s fashion plate featuring a the epitome of youth and sweetness in ballgown form.  Combined with the model’s expression, I call it the ‘Someday my Prince will come’ dress.  There were the usual complaints about not liking to rate fashion plates because they aren’t fully developed dresses.  I think makes fashion even more rateable, because we get to see the idea of a fashion at its most extreme and pristine, rather than a fashion adulterated by the skill of the seamstress, the preferences and body shape of the wearer, and the ravages of time.  (So no, I’m not going to stop showing fashion plates, and please humour me and either rate them or just keep quiet about it).  And it was certainly interesting to see the interpretations of the dress depending on exactly what fabric you imagined it in – and the comparisons to extant gowns of similar fabric and trims.  A most fascinating discussion! Overall, while a few of you really liked the dress for its iconically 1820s features, the …

Rate the Dress: Walking in blue, ca 1884

Last week I showed you a forward thinking and backwards looking tea gown.  It was quite a divisive garment.  Some of you appreciated the way the flowing fit would flatter a fuller figure, but others found the design confusing and unresolved, or disliked the colour.  It got a lot of very high scores, and a lot of very low scores, evening out at 7 out of 10.  I suspect it might have rated higher if we could have seen it on a mannequin that was really the shape of the original wearer. This week we’re sticking with the theme of slightly alternative fashions, with an 1880s walking dress with a bit of inspiration from the Aesthetic movement. This dress intrigues me because it almost looks like the mythical Regency dress-made-from-a-sari, only 70 years late.  The metallic trim around the hems works with the cobalt blue to give the dress a slightly exotic feel.  The trim is so unusual for a garment like a walking dress of this period, that I’m almost inclined to think it’s a …

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 …