Women from July 1850

July 1850
Date: July 1850
Originally published in: Le Moniteur de la mode
Description: Two women outdoors - one in a walking-dress and one in a somewhat less formal day-dress. 

The day dress is perhaps the most interesting piece here, with the pink skirt and the white blouse. The key question is if this is a one-piece dress sewn in two different fabrics, or if it is a skirt and a blouse. It really does look like two-piece thing, the material is obviously very different and dresses sewn in two separate fabrics are not a common thing (it is actually so rare that I have never seen any evidence for it). But there is a big problem with this - in the 1850's a blouse was not considered a fashionable garment for the upper classes, and these fashion plates were made for that specific audience. (And no, it isn't a jacket since a jacket couldn't be tucked in to the skirt as is the case here.) Still, the material of the blouse is obviously expensive, only for the well off. From this I think we can draw two conclusions: it's a garment meant to be worn at home as it is much less formal, and it was probably aimed at the somewhat younger clientele, being a bit more practical, probably somewhat less expensive than a whole dress and easier to wear. The woman in the picture is wearing a bonnet, but since it's outside and the black lace is obviously there to hide her face from the sun it only reveals that she doesn't want a tan and nothing about weather she is a married (older) woman or not. But she definitely comes across as younger than the other one, the woman in blue.

The other dress, the walking-dress is much more straight forward. It's the typical shape, size and model for a dress of that type at that time - with the usual accessories of bonnet and gloves (and dog). Though I am not sure light gloves are the ideal for picking cherries...


A 1900 tea-gown in the Victoria & Albert Museum

Victoria and Albert Museum - Tea-gown
This tea-gown, by the Parisian Rouff, dates to around 1900. The front panel was probably made in India, but to suit European tastes, and the lace is from Limerick, Ireland. According to the Victorian & Albert museum (where it can be seen) it is: woven silk damask embroidered with glass and metal beads, and metal thread, chain-stitch embroidered net.

Additional shots of the dress:
Victoria and Albert Museum - Tea-gown

The lace on the back of this dress is quite amazing - flowing like a cascading waterfall to the floor. Very beautiful but more meant for standing up than sitting down, one would assume. The same lace can then be seen at the sleeves and covering part of the skirt giving it a feeling of a fairy-tale princess dress. 

Victoria and Albert Museum - Tea-gown
Here the beading and embroidery can be seen very clearly - along with the dress silhouette so typical of the Edwardian era: a thing waist and the chest pushed out like on a hen (perhaps not the most flattering of models that fashion history has come up with).

All photos are (c) Rebecca Bugge.