Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Elegant Simplicity

I love the simplicity of this dress. And the elegance. It hits every note of why I love dresses from the 1860's.

It's from 1865 and it's probably at the Met. I forgot to note where it came from...

The print is a little on the unusual side. Smaller patterns were more common. The fringe trim at the waist is also unusual for this period. But adds to the beauty.

There's no picture of the back, but just from this view and knowing what I'm looking at, I can see the beginning of the first bustle era. See how it's relatively flat in front and gathered in the back at the top of the skirt? This is the move to the first bustle era, which I think is the prettier of the two.

What's really cool about this post though, is that I have a picture of an actual hoop from this period that is very similar to the one under this dress.

Pretty cool, huh? It may be easier for me to see since I know what I'm looking at, but this hoop is starting to elongate to the back and become more of an oval shape. This started late 1863/early 1864. The reason it doesn't show up in American fashion until 1865-1866 is because of the Civil War. As the decade progressed, and as you can see in the 1865 dress above, the front of the dress changed to completely flat and the backs of the dresses became more and more elaborate.

Eventually the hoop disappeared completely and was replaced by the bustle. By 1870 the hoop was dead.

Next week I'll have a picture of a French dress from 1867 that beautifully illustrates the extreme change in the back of the skirt.


  1. Beautiful dress. I love your explanations of the history of fashion. It's stuff I wouldn't normally notice!

    1. Thanks, Anne! That's the goal here, to point out the little things that most people don't notice.