1850’s House Dress

For our first post on historical fashions we have chosen a simple house dress inspired by a design from the year 1852. Before we describe the dress here is some background information on the fashions of the 1850’s

The 1850’s would be considered part of the Victorian era. Queen Victoria reigned from the year 1837 to 1901, however her influence on the fashion world was primarily from 1837 to 1877. Most women’s gowns would probably have been inspired in some way by what the queen wore. The Victorian era was full of inventions and changes which had their effect on the world of fashion. In this period we see the invention of the sewing machine, elastic, the ability to make lace by machine, as well as the rise of couture. Many of these changes made fashion more accessible to the average person. Well to do ladies would change clothes several times a day. For example, she might start the day in a simple house dress such as the one featured today, then change to a more formal costume for paying or receiving calls, and then to an elaborate gown for evening. Gowns were made up in everything from cotton, to silk, to velvet or lace. Popular trims included fine laces, ribbons, bows, flowers, and embroidery. Accessories included bonnets, fans, gloves, and parasols. During this time gowns often featured: structured bodices which went over corsets, pointed waistlines, sleeves set in low on the shoulder, bell shaped skirts (formed by hoops,) and elaborate trims.

Meet our guest model Elizabeth! She will wear each gown featured in this series.

This lovely gown was inspired by an 1852 illustration in Godey’s Lady’s Book, a popular fashion magazine of  the time. We made it up in a gorgeous rust colored cotton sateen, and used cream linen as a contrast material. This dress in seemingly simple, but the bodice is quite  structured. Seaming down the front creates a point and gives the dress a more period correct look on the doll. Tiny piping accents the waistline. The full skirt is pleated, and the gathered sleeves are finished with a ruffle. The neckline is bound in cream linen and sweetly accented with a bow. A cream shawl makes a perfect accessory. This style of gown would have been worn when a lady wanted to be “comfortable.” Please note: This gown is not for sale. If you are interested in something similar, request a custom item. We hope you have enjoyed this first post on historical fashions. Look for the next 1850’s dress soon!

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