Form and Fashion

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Dress
About 1870-1873, 19th century
Fibre: silk (taffeta, faille); Sewn
Gift of Mrs. J. Reid Hyde
M971.105.6.1-3
© McCord Museum
Description
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Description

The puffing at the back of the skirt, as seen here, has evolved into what became known as the bustle style of 1870. Then it was usually supported by a substructure, called a bustle, often made of horsehair. The short-waisted bodice with a short basque has long sleeves with deep cuffs bordered by self-fabric bands in the darker taffeta and decorated with two buttons, these and all other buttons being covered in faille. The lower edge of the jacket is bordered with the self-fabric bands which are also used to create, in the front and back, a V-configuration to suggest a yoke. The basque is longer at the back, forming a box-pleated postillon that features buttoned revers and hip buttons. The overskirt is gored and pleated to the waistband at the sides, and gathered to it in the back. The sides of the front are slightly gathered at their edges to a central back panel which is longer than the front : the gathered areas are embellished with bows. The back gathering results in puffing which is supported by interior vertical tapes. Bands similar to those used in the jacket form a border near the hemline of the overskirt. The underskirt is also gored, pleated to the waistband at the sides and gathered to it at the back. The hemline is embellished with a deep self-fabric flounce and banded with the darker taffeta, except for the front area of the underskirt. Here, near the hemline, there is instead a rectangular panel of decoration with banding, gathering, flat pleats and bows in both taffeta fabrics. From 1870, the puffing was supported with vertical interior tapes. At this time the bodice was often short-waisted and had short basques, as in the McCord model. Subtle evidence of its lengthening into a more normal waist is increasingly noted in portraits in the Notman Photographic Archives in 1873, and becomes well-established by 1874. (Excerpt from: BEAUDOIN-ROSS, Jacqueline. Form and Fashion : Nineteenth-Century Montreal Dress, McCord Museum of Canadian History, 1992, p. 36.)

Keys to History

The puffing at the back of the skirt, as seen here, has evolved into what became known as the bustle style of 1870. It was usually supported by a substructure called a bustle, often made of horsehair. The short-waisted bodice with a short basque has long sleeves with deep cuffs bordered by bands of dark blue-green taffeta and decorated with two buttons covered in faille, as are all of the buttons. The lower edge of the jacket is bordered with the same taffeta bands, which are also used to create a V in the front and back, suggesting a yoke. The basque is longer at the back, forming a box-pleated peplum that features buttoned revers and hip buttons.

The gored overskirt is pleated to the waistband at the sides and gathered to it at the back. The sides of the front are slightly gathered at the edges to a central back panel, which is longer than the front. The gathered areas are embellished with bows. The back gathering results in puffing, which is supported by interior vertical tapes. Bands similar to those used in the jacket form a border near the hemline.

  • What

    The underskirt, like the overskirt, is gored, pleated to the waistband at the sides and gathered to it at the back. The hemline is embellished with a deep self-fabric flounce banded with the darker taffeta, except in the front, where there is a lower rectangular panel of decoration with banding, gathering, flat pleats and bows in both taffeta fabrics.

  • Where

    Published in Montreal in the 1870s, the Canadian Illustrated News and L'Opinion Publique were lavishly illustrated with often identical pictures of places where the latest fashions of every sort could be admired.

  • When

    As of 1870, the back puffing was supported with vertical interior tapes. Bodices then were often [object=II-6370.1]short-waisted[/object] and had short basques, as in the McCord model.

  • Who

    This dress was worn by Mrs. Hugh McLennan (née Alice Stewart). According to Lovell's Montreal Directory for 1870, Hugh McLennan worked for J.B. Auger & Co., shippers and shipbuilders.