This gray silk carriage dress is a copy of an original gown in the London Museum that was made in the late 1850s. It was pictured in the book, “Cut of Women’s Clothes” by Norah Waugh. For outdoor wear we have added the latest creation from New York, a spring bonnet of black crepe, arranged on a foundation of lace. The front is edged with a double fold of gray silk. Yellow flowers adorn the right side and yellow roses are interspersed in the full cap of blond lace. On the left side is placed a gray silk bow trimmed with pearls. The curtain, to protect the neck from the sun, is of the same silk. The broad riband streamers tied beneath the chin were called brides. Remodeling of dresses to keep in style was practiced extensively. One magazine recommended that large shawls be made to match the gown so it could be used in future remodeling.
The bodice of the gown is decorated with braid froggings and silver buttons. Men’s uniforms are the most likely inspiration for this ornamentation, and also the stripes on the sleeves. Under the pagoda sleeve can be seen large detachable sleeves of batiste which tend to make the hands disappear. The basque bodice is fully lined and boned on all seams. The flounces of the gown have wide bands of plaid taffeta, the skirt is completely lined, and also has a 10-inch band of stiff muslin to give body around the bottom. It is pleated in the front and gauged (or gathered) in the back.
The many petticoats of the 1840s have been laid aside for a new invention - the hoop. The hoop was not accepted without some ridicule. The hoop supported the weight of this gray pure silk tiered skirt. The skirt is fully lined and has a 10-inch band of stiff muslin, which gives body around the bottom. The detachable sleeves of batiste, which are long and full, make the hands seem to disappear. Small hands were the sign of gentility. The “basque” bodice is fully lined and boned on all seams. Men’s uniforms are the most likely inspiration for the braid froggings and silver button ornamentation of the bodice.
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