Monday, January 25, 2016
Natural Form Silk Dress
From the seller:
This is a stunning two piece bustle gown. The changeable silk is in shades of a bronze/rust/brown, alternating with a shimmering, light green. The color changes depending on the angle that it is viewed. Both pieces are trimmed with silk chenille, with tiny thread beads worked into the strands. The top I would describe as more of a jacket than a bodice. It's of a normal length in front, ending just below the waist, but with long tails in back that reach to the hem. These fasten to the side of the skirt with hooks and eyes.
The bodice fastens in front in a corset style, with what looks to be the original lacing thread. There are also some looped soutache designs at the puffed shoulders.
The skirt has the same silk chenille to trim, is pleated, has an asymmetrical drape off to the right side. Both pieces are lined with brown cotton.
There is a Lowell, Massachusetts, dressmaker's belt inside.
The bust measures 35 1/2", waist is 28", as you see them laced in the pictures. It's 13" between the shoulder seams in back, 54 1/2" long overall, measured in back. The skirt is 29" around at the waist, is 40 1/2" long. Please note that these are outside measurements.
It's in very good overall condition. One underarm has some discoloration, the other with some very faint darkening of the fabric. There are perhaps 4-5 of the silk thread "buttons" missing from the chenille trim at the back of the neck. There is one chenille tassel, out of four (two at each shoulder), remaining. The silk at the waistband is starting to deteriorate, though it's hidden by the bodice, and is holding up fairly well. There is adequate fabric at the hem that might be used to reinforce or change the waistband. There are two places where the skirt needs to be reattached to the waistband. These are about 6" long each, there is also a similar area to the brown cotton lining. These are in back, on either side of the skirt fastener. There are no rips or tears to the fabric, however. The skirt has 12 chenille tassels highlighted with blue thread "beads", of these, 5 are complete, the rest are missing most or some of the blue beads. This is visible in the last picture. The skirt also needs an "eye" to go with the hook. Late 1880's.
First, I have no idea what that thing growing on the side of the skirt is. It looks like a puffy yarn snake.
Second, no bustle. Check out the hem in the full length photos - it's nearly even. This is a Natural Form era dress putting it in the late 1870's, very early 1880's at the latest. The cut of the bodice reminds me sort of this one at the Met. Or this one that is no longer at the Met:
My guess is 1877 ish.