Wednesday, December 26, 2012

American Civil War Era Silk Dress

From the seller:

A very pretty original circa 1860 lady's changeable silk satin one piece gown with fashionable pagoda sleeves. A stylish attached capelet trimmed in a multicolor silk fringe that repeats on the sleeves. Lined and stayed, with a V back construction, piped at the neckline and bodice, and with a blind front hook and eye closure. The sarcenet lined skirt has a directionally pleated front to the waistband and a double box pleated back, and a silk twill tape floor brush. Shown over a hoop skirt that in not included. 15" from shoulder to shoulder, a 34" bust, 26" waist, and 56" from shoulder to front hem. Recently de-accessioned from a New York State museum with its 1971 museum accession numbered tag still attached. In clean sound as found condition, with perspiration color at the armscyes that does not show beneath the capelet, an organic stain above the front of the waistband, some lighter organic spots, most to the front of the skirt, and a few tiny pin dot to 1/8" holes to the skirt. All is reflected in the reserve price for this very good pre-Civil War era dress.

From Me:

I'm putting this a bit later than the seller but it is an early 1860's example so either way, you'd see someone wearing something like this during the American Civil War era.


  1. Looks like an 1850s dress with bretelles that was updated with a new waistline for the 1860s. The sleeves may have been re-cut as well. This wouldn't be the most fashionable choice for the Civil War years, but very believable for the right person.

    1. Very true. It may just be the way the mannequin is but it looks like there is more skirtage towards the back rather than to the front - which is why I put it in the Civil War era. :-)

    2. Now I see it! And even pre-hoop skirts weren't completely round, so there was usually extra material in the back for it too fall gracefully. And I completely agree with your dating. I just wanted to add that it's a clear example of how long-waisted 1850s dresses could be updated just by re-cutting the waistline. Or even folding it up inside. I'd like to see the inside - often the extra material is still there. :)