Sunday, November 20, 2016

Late 1890's Fancy Dress

From the seller:

This beautiful Victorian gown is made from an iridescent silk taffeta that changes from olive green to purple and fuchsia. It has a metallic embroidered silk brocade collar, yoke and cuffs. The cuffs and back has beaded and pearled trim (beads are good, some pearls missing). It hooks down the front and has 2 detached large bows backed in the metallic brocade that I think goes on the shoulders. It's missing some trim in front, probably more of the beadwork. It's lined in olive green worst3ed with velvet around the hem. The center back of the dress has a double box pleat. The shoulders and underarm of the dress has some shattering and minor splits around the waist. It measures 34 inches around the bust, waist is 24, across the back shoulder is 8 3/4 inches and is 56 inches long in front.

From Me:

There was probably a lot more trim on this dress that was later taken off. I'm pretty sure this was meant to be an Elizabethan look fancy dress. However, there are still a lot of elements that scream late 1890's. The way the "partlet" was done for one. The high neck with the white brocade over the base of the dress is a very 1890's thing to do. The big shoulder bows:

1897 Fashion Plate
1897 Fashion Plate

See? Big shoulder bows or ruffles began to replace the Leg-o-Mutton sleeves we are so used to seeing. The sweep of the skirt is also very 1890's although exaggerated since it is a Fancy Dress. The Elizabethan styles was very popular in the late Victorian/Edwardian era. You'll see Elizabethan styled a lot if you look through both the books (Fancy Dresses Described; Or, What to Wear at Fancy Balls was a popular periodical for a number of years) and through the extant outfits, you'll see a ton of Elizabethan (or Shakespearean) inspired outfits. Because that style was so popular, many 16th Century extant gowns were lost during the Late Victorian/Edwardian period. A lot. We have a sleeve left of one outfit, part of a gown of another. People destroyed tons of outfits that had survived for hundreds of years to that point just to wear them to a fancy dress ball. All that history, all that potential research material, gone because someone wanted to be lazy and not make their own outfit but wear a "real" one, destroying it. This is why you never, ever wear antique outfits. Ever.

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