Friday, January 18, 2013

Bustle Era Wedding (?) Gown

From the seller:

Stunning, remarkable craftsmanship. What unique skill and vision to not only have sewn it, but to have designed it as well.

This is a very special wedding gown from 1890. It comes from the extensive collection of antique clothing that was my mother and grandmother's.
The material is a liquid ivory satin. So soft to the touch. Thick enough to be sculpted and thin enough to move with you.

The bodice is lined in an excellent quality polished cotton, as one might expect, and has four stays.
The button holes are hand sewn and the ten buttons are oval shaped mother of pearl with a brown hue. All of the buttons are present. There is a ribbon of silk on the inside running the length of the buttonholes that reinforced them that is fractured and could easily be removed, and not likely missed.
A band of silk is arround the neckline with 9 rows of smocking at the collarbone, and 36 rows of tapered smocking forming a V down the center of the bodice.

The sleeves once had three rows of netting at the cuff, but the net did not hold up over the last 120 years and just a reminent of it remains to show that it was there. There are no perspiration stains beneath the arms, and there are no rips, tears nor stains on the bodice.
The entire bodice is so form fitting on top, and then you get to that volumous polinaise skirt that is so loaded with detail.

While it appears to be two piece, it is actually open at the front and on the sides and attached at the back.
The fringe permiating the dress is crimped silk and to give it added dimension there are actually two sizes of crimps.
The front of the skirt is sculpted pleats and every 4 inches there is a large pillowy form of vertical smocking. It ends at the hemline with a 9" pleated ruffle. Some of the pleats are inverted and they are spaced with rows of ruffles.

Beneath that row is ruffled net covered satin. The net should be replaced. This row is 7" long.
Simply amazing.
The sides and back of the skirt at the waist and hips that are hidden beneath the bodice are very thick gauzy cotton in a squared pattern. It secures in the back with a hook and eye.
The jacket swoops down each side trimmed in fringe and stands out with the polinaise style at the hips.
There are two tails at the back. Interesting to note, One of them is trimmed in fringe the other is not. It is not missing, there are no needle holes there, or an indication of any kind that is missing fringe.
The back of the dress is volumuous and looks like an overstuffed pillow with swaths and draping of satin. At one time there were rows of net between them, only remnents of it remain.
The train is squared off at the back. It is covered in the same alternating pleats and there are two rows of netting above it. This netting is strong and I see no holes in it.
The area that needs attention is the bottom of the train. It must have also looked like an over stuffed pillow, as there are (or were) three rows of pleated gauze trimmed in lovely lace and another of heavy pleated pellum. It could easily be removed and probably not be missed.

I found no rips, tears or stains on the skirt of the dress either. It looks like just remove some net and place some net.
This is truly an heirloom piece from my family's collection, stunning in person and an excellent example of the era. If you look on the web pages for similar dresses you will find that they are priced in the thousands of dollars.

Bust: 34"
Waist: 28"
Arms: 17" (3/4 length)
Top shoulder seam: from neck to inset 6"

From Me:

I keep going back and forth on the 1870's/1880's line. I'm sliding this into the 1880's due to the fringe. It's clearly not 1890's.


  1. Drool, drool! (But not on the dress!!)

    It looks 1879 - 1882 to me. Yum!

  2. Dunno if you've come across this bodice yet to post here, but look at that point! :D