Earlier this year I visited the Kenosha Civil War Museum to see a special exhibit of fashion in that era, Bodices, Bonnets and Weeds. These were middle and upper class fashions for both every day and formal events. There were great garments and
information to learn from and I want to share it with you.
During the 1860s and 1870s, a woman’s role changed and she had more influence. Their physical silhouette changed from a frailer one to a larger hipped, bigger bust, more robust, even plump physique. French art and other influences helped propagate this.
This house dress was made for just that-to be worn only around the house. The fabric is roller printed with different colored stripes and the hem is a common one just folded up and held with a running stitch.
In the mid-19th century, American women were considered the best dressed in the world. They spent more and had larger wardrobes than Europeans. How women dressed showed their social status (some things never change). Just like success in business was important for men, success in fashion was important for women.
These leather pumps with rosettes were from somewhere between 1850-1860. They didn’t have a right or left shoe which was called “straights”. Left and right designated shoes didn’t become common until the 1860s.
Terms for a 1860s fashionista:
Crinoline: a garment made with horizontal hoops of stiff material (usually metal or whalebone) inserted or woven into fabric to support wide skirts. Also known as a hoop skirt or “hoops”.
Mitts: fingerless clothes that extend to the wrist or forearm, usually made of fine dark lace.
Petticoat: a skirt like undergarment warm for warmth or to give the skirt or dress the desired fashionable shape.
The collection was a great representation of what women wore during the late 1800s and I truly enjoyed seeing real life examples of what some of my fore-mothers wore.