Saturday, May 7, 2016

Late 1860's Lilac Dress

From the seller:

A beautiful 1868 lilac silk wedding dress that was originally worn by Alice Little when she married William Hewitt Coates. The Hewitt family was from North Stonington, CT and the wedding took place in Michigan. The old note that came with the dress says that it was made in New York City. The bodice has Renaissance styled sleeves that are trimmed with white lace and white silk braiding. The inner part of the sleeve is lined with white satin. The bodice is lined with cotton and has a front button closure. The one piece dress comes with a separate belt. The front of the belt is decorated with a rosette and the back has long streamers that are trimmed with white silk braiding. The dress has a long back train. The skirt is lined with cotton and buckram. The dress is in very good and sturdy condition. There are three missing buttons, light underarm discoloration and some light fading on the skirt. The fading is only noticeable in the bright light. There is some light age marks on the back hemline and a couple of tiny holes in the back of the skirt. A stunning dress that has great documentation. Bust 34 Waist 26 Front skirt length 41 Lack length 67 Width at hemline 160.

From Me:

1867 Fashion Plate

The hanging sleeves were more of a thing in the previous year but you still see them in 1868. The dress could have been part of a mourning wardrobe - many brides would wear lilac/lavender rather than white as a symbol they were still in mourning.

Text: wedding reception; persons in the deepest mourning are allowed to wear lavender, white or gray, on these occasions, even if they resume close black immediately afterwards.  - From The Art of Dressing Well: A Complete Guide to Economy, Style and Propriety
By Sarah Annie Frost, circa 1870

Although she is speaking of the wedding party, it was also common for the Bride to wear the colors of mourning.

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