Showing posts from 2014

Waistcoats: 19th and 20th Century

Apart from certain stylistic keys, I've always had a harder time dating men's clothing. It's just not as interesting to me, so I haven't taken the time to really study dated extant pieces and images and improve my skills. But lately I've come across more undated waistcoats while cataloguing - it's become something that I need to work on. And how better than by putting together a blog post? Wedding waistcoat, 1808; MMA 2009.300.7449  [OASC] At the beginning of the century, fashionable waistcoats were cut straight across at the bottom to match fashionable coats, although the vests often protruded slightly below the waistline of the coat. High collars, also matching the coats, would cover the sides of the shirt collar that extended up to the jawline. Both coats and vests could be single- or double-breasted, generally with self-covered buttons. While coat lapels were generally wide, waistcoat lapels were somewhat narrower. Toward the end of the first decade

Tableaux Vivants at Clermont

Clermont at night On Sunday, I volunteered at the Candlelight Evening at Clermont - playing Cornelia Livingston in 1843 as she sewed a Christmas present while her sister-in-law read and a servant decorated a small tree. Here are some photos of the other rooms (1776, 1778, 1808, and 1860s), please check them out! For the event, I rewore my Cranford dress with some alterations. The main thing was that I took the bodice side seams in about 3" in total, I think: it really didn't fit before (where now it has "fit issues"). I still need to mess some more with the armscyes and add bust padding to achieve a decent smoothness, and need to cut about an inch off the bottom, but I'm much happier with it than I was before. I also wore it over two more petticoats, one of which is made of crinoline and wired, and that helped the silhouette enormously. This period requires a mass of petticoats to create a softly belled shape, which I believe I came closer to achie

Fashion History Mythbusters: The Cage Crinoline or Hoop Skirt

As Julia Thomas points out in Pictorial Victorians , the satirical cartoons and anecdotes in Punch  heavily colored contemporary (and modern) impressions of the fashions of the 1850s and 1860s. As a result, the wide skirts seem like fantastical costumes that played havoc with ordinary life and were impossible to move around in. And so the myths have proliferated. “Cool Request,” Punch, or the London Charivari , Volume 32, January 31, 1857, p. 50. - compare to the actual 1857 fashion plate below The first myth to address is the name of the garment. My impression is that most people use the term "cage crinoline"- "hoop skirt" sounds farby: it gives the impression of a cheap and flimsy petticoat worn by someone who doesn't know any better. eBay and Etsy sellers using elastic and plastic sell hoop skirts, but those who use metal and fitted waistbands (and the more established companies with their own websites) sell cage crinolines. Even when used without a neg

A Delphos Dress

"Delphos" dress, Mariano Fortuny, 1910-1930; CHM 1997.68.1 (pattern available at link) Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (1871-1949) is best remembered for two things: vibrantly patterned silks and velvets, and the Delphos gown, inspired by ancient Greek chitons (themselves imported from Asia Minor), which were made from a single rectangular panel of linen or silk sewn into a tube, the top edge fastened with brooches down the length of the arms, and belted to fit to the body. The Neoclassical revival had already begun in the decorative arts by 1907, when Fortuny developed the Delphos, and high fashion was beginning to show its influence as well - but this was much more extreme than anything else in existence at the time. Not only was it originally intended to be worn without a corset at home (corsetless teagowns had been worn for some time already), there was absolutely nothing about its design that hid that fact. The straight, clinging line would soon become mainstream fashion,

On Ball Dress ...

Journal des Dames et des Modes , 1813 ... The fashion is for coiffures à la chinoise  so high that, even with the longest hair, it is difficult to create them. M. Palette has created false coques* of hair; and, with this accessory, or a part of it, for the coques  come apart, one can create the highest chinoises . Five coques  are sold for twenty-five francs. M Palette resides at the passage of the Petits-Pères , number one . For balls, seamstresses sew satin motifs on tulle gowns, made in the shape of a peak or trefoil, and fold down their edges: they put a garland of flowers at the bottom of the gown, and above the garland a double rouleau of satin. Gowns are called à la Vierge  or à la demi-guimpe  if they are as high-cut as those seen in church paintings. These new gowns are made in emerald green and white striped gauze, or lapis lazuli blue and white; the trim of the top and bottom consists of a bouillonné  band of gauze made in reverse box pleats. - From the article a

The Clothing Project

No substantive post this week - and there won't be one next week, either. Probably  you will get one the week after. (I had a great idea for one that I've lost, but I'm sure it will come back to me ... while I'm at work, when I'm holding a pastry bag of frosting instead of a pen.) This is because the deadline for my manuscript - Regency Women's Dress , you may recall - is coming up very quickly. The good news: having to send in the text and pictures means that we're getting closer to the point where the book will be actually available , which is of course a good thing. The unsettling news: are you crazy?! I have to get it all perfectly finished and submitted! Which means that I'm spending all of my time on writing, rewriting, consulting about the illustrations, and redrafting the patterns in ink, and sadly don't have time to write a great post. (If you should want to see what I've posted about most of the patterns I've taken, check out

Jennie Goodman's Wedding Dress (1878)

I've been sitting on this pattern for a while because this is, frankly, one of my favorites of the dresses I put online at the Chapman. CHM 1971.38.1 (pattern available at link) Now, the photo is not great. It's a decent view of the bodice, but you don't get a good sense of the elaborate drapery and the classic early Natural Form train. There are a few other shots on the website, but there's nothing like seeing a dress on a mannequin. Unfortunately, this gown has some structural issues, possibly due to being on a hanger for a long time (though it was in a box when I got there), and can probably never be dressed, which is one reason I wanted to pattern it. The slender princess line would make this tricky to fit, which is why I haven't tried to make it yet (as well as the utter confusion of the pattern itself, which was phenomenally difficult to take and had me contemplating just putting the dress back several times). It's very close-fitting from the neck

Post-Edwardian Mourning, plus Renoirs

I hadn't even heard  of Death Becomes Her or You (the former is the exhibition, the latter the event) until I was emailed an invitation to come in period clothing. Since Julie moved far away there haven't really been any events close enough for me to go, and I was so excited! But I have nothing suitable for mourning in the period covered by Death Becomes Her - technically, my white cotton 1780 gown, if worn with a white petticoat, would count as second mourning in its period, though - so I had to take action quickly: I had to make the best use of my time as I'm a slow sewer. It was hard to decide. My choices were: Regency, as I've taken a lot of patterns for my book and have so many options 1840s, as it's kind of my era of choice when you take convenience out of the conversation 1910s, my old love, plus I have a 1911 corset and do not need any extra underpinnings In the end, I went with the early 1910s. My sewing speed was really an issue, especially as I

On Mourning

(I decided to write this post because I'm planning to branch out into historical social topics more frequently - but it lines up very well with an event this week! I will be attending  Death Becomes You  at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Halloween, in a post-Edwardian black wool dress with white collar and cuffs. Hope to see you there! Next week, I'll be posting some information about the dress, plus gloating about how happy I am with my dyed Renoir boots.) The subject of mourning is a very popular one when it comes to the mythology of the Victorian period. Traditional rules of mourning, however, go back further than Prince Albert's death, Victoria's reign, or even the nineteenth century. The concept of mourning in specific clothing is very, very old, but to focus specifically on Western European codes involving specific styles of dress, stages of intensity, and periods of time, a mourning code including concepts of first and second mourning extends at least as