This dress has the back fastenings of the 1840s combined with features from the 1850s, such as the widened sleeve over lace half sleeves and the deeply flounced skirt. The flounces, on already full skirts, increase their width. A lace pelerine contrasts with the peach of the gown. Gloves were a must and these match the lace pelerine. The fan helped to move the air and could be used to communicate across the room with one’s beau, if he knew the language.

Dress makers of the 19th century were women and many traveled from home to home each year to remodel last year’s gowns and to make new ones. One new dress a year was considered sufficient for the ladies of the fast growing middle class. This crisp rustling dress has a draped front ending in the front with gathers at the long pointed waist. The detachable sleeves could be laundered as well as the layers of petticoats and underclothes. Ready-made garments which required no fitting were available in shops but as long as the body of the fashionable dress fitted tightly, production of ready-made dresses was limited.  The changing hair styles show its effect on the shape of the bonnet and cap. The white cotton cap is edged with closely gathered muslin frills and trimmed with lace.

Click photo for detailed view.