During the 1830s, wasp waists, full skirts, and leg o’mutton sleeves ushered in a new era. Primness and prissiness were virtues. A girl was supposed to swoon at the word “leg” and faint at the term “breast.” Prudery was perfection. The era was a time of cleanliness and scented soaps. Toilet water became a must. Cosmetics consisted of lampblack for mascara, and the dye rubbed from a wet red ribbon provided a delicate rose tint to the cheeks. Women bit their lips vigorously before entering a room to add lip color.

This modest navy blue cotton gown would have been appropriate for a prim school teacher. By the 1830s, the large leg o’mutton sleeve had expanded to such an extent that it needed extra support in the form of down-filled pads stiffened with interlining or whalebone stays. Covering the front of the dress is the ever present apron.

The neckline has widened and the top of the armhole moved out onto the shoulder. Wide collars (and mancherons) gave further emphasis to this part of the body. Here we have a V-shaped chemisette inset used to accent the shoulder line.

During this time, a cushion or pad was once again used to hold out the skirt. We used a quilted, stiffly starched petticoat to support the skirt. By this time, the petticoat had evolved into a true undergarment. Cording and braided straw were also added to help stiffen the skirt.

Shoes are flat, made of cloth and similar to 21st century bedroom slippers.

This reproduction was made by Nellie Wright.

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