6/13/2009

Fashion of the week - Ladies dressed for a visit, 1874

This picture was published in the French Journal des Demoiselles in 1874.

For once this fashion print does not show an odd mix of dresses for different occasions, but rather chooses to show different models of the same type of the dress - that is the dress for visits. This kind of dress was meant to be worn when leaving the house in the daytime to go and visit others, or doing other stuff in the daytime which meant you wanted to look your best

Of course this was not a luxury afforded by everyone, most women did not have a spare change of clothes for when they were going to call on others, but the fashion magazines did not have that kind of woman as their main audience either. For them the important reader was the well-to-do woman (often the kind with a well-to-do father or husband), and they could very well be persuaded they needed something like this.

The difference between these dresses and normal day-wear is, of course, that these are more fashionable, more over the top. There are trains, ruffles and mixes of different fabrics - light and dark and chequered and plain. Even the girl, wearing similar clothes (but with a shorter skirt, since she, after all, is not grown up), has different fabrics in her dress. At the same time you would not mistake these dresses for evening-wear. The colours are too sombre, the cut too modest for that - and you would not have had long sleeves. This was for showing off - in the daytime, which could be just as important, even though it might be more common with smaller gatherings then, than later at night. After all, a lady should always look her best.

1 comment:

Viola said...

What a beautiful blog! I am so pleased to find it. I like all of these details about fashion and women's history is so interesting as well.