Monday, September 26, 2016

Late Victorian Black Silk Tea Gown

From the seller:

Label: Daniels & Fisher Denver

Black silk floral damask mourning gown from the late 1800s to early 1900s
Yellow velveteen collar probably added later
Lace wide collar, around the cuffs and in gathered rows down the center front
Velvet and lace around the hem
Satin sash and big bow in the front
Boned inside
Large pleat in the center back starts at the top and forms a train...It is large enough for a bustle underneath
It has a museum number tag attached on the inside
Note: the photos have been lightened a bit to show the details

The fabric has shattered all over, mostly small holes and tears that are visible when held up to a light...It is not stable enough to wear without restoration
The bodice flap is torn
It can be restored, or used for fabric or pattern study

These measurements are taken flat with a flexible measuring tape...You have to be smaller than the measurements to allow room for ease:

There is no size tag, fits a XXS
Shoulder to shoulder: 14 inches
Sleeve length: 24 inches
Bust: 30 inches
Waist: 22 inches
Hip: full
Length center back: 59 inches

From Me:

I bought this one. :-) It is absolutely stunning in person. However, it is not a mourning gown - or wasn't when it was last used. The richness of the brocade, the ridiculous amount of lace, and the bright orangy yellow velvet collar mean this was most likely just a very elegant tea gown.

Some of my pictures:

The inside of the gown.  Notice the waistband is upside down

The inside of the armscye.  The lining appears to be red polished cotton

Lace on the cuff.  It's very crudely based on - making me think it might be a later addition.

Lace on the front of the skirt.

Lace and velvet trim at the hem of the gown.  This is everywhere except the very front piece

Gathered trim at the very front

Watteau pleating in the back.  

The belt is sewn into the center back under the pleat

The belt is based about five inches out to keep it in place.  It's lined in cotton.  

The floral brocade

Waist bow

This is the back of the collar with the collar undone.  It's possible the hint of orange-y yellow velvet was added later but I doubt it.  

After studying this gown in person for a while, I'm pretty sure it's late 1890's. Here are some fashion plates:

1898 Fashion Plate
1898 Fashion Plate
1899 Fashion Plate

The way the belt goes up in the back is pretty common in the late 1890's tea gowns. The sleeves still have a hint of puff at the upper back and the amount of lace that goes out over the shoulders would also be common then.


  1. Lucky duck for getting that, and at that price! It's a beauty!
    Having that would have helped me in constructing my own recently.