Fashion of the week - Evening wear, 1888

This is an example of evening dresses from the American fashion journal 'Peterson's Magazine' published in 1888. The month it was published is not know, it was a monthly periodical. Three of the dresses are most clearly ball gowns, but the other two are in all probability that too. The reason for assuming this is the long train on the dress, furthest to the left in a way that would never be found on day wear. And though it was quite common to mix day and evening wear on fashion plates at this time it would not be done with four dresses of one kind and just one of another – which makes it safe to presume that the purple dress is evening wear to, in spite of the high collar and everything being all covered up.

The dresses show the typical thing of 19th century evening wear, big skirts that cover everything and décolletages that shows almost everything and more (without being considered indecent). Everyone has the hair piled up in a little bun on top of the head – long hair was the thing for every decent woman, and of course pinned up when you are old enough, but when looking at these ladies it is hard to imagine that the hair would be very long when let down. They all have long gloves and fans, a must for every proper lady. But it is interesting to note the lack of jewelry. It is only one of the ladies who wears a necklace, and this was considered to picture ladies at the top of society – it was the top of society that dictated how the fashion should be.

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