Form and Fashion

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Dress
About 1866-1869, 19th century
Fibre: silk (taffeta, satin), cotton (lining); metal; Sewn (machine & hand)
M6327.1-3
© McCord Museum
Description
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Description

The skirt now becomes flat in the front with fullness pushed to the back. The front of the waist-length bodice features an inset area of fabric with a broad horizontal satin stripe which is shirred. The small standing collar is fashioned from this same material, as are the narrow pleated ruche finishing the long sleeve, and the belt. The front edge-to-edge closure is fastened with black metal hooks and eyes. The trained skirt, while flat in front, is elsewhere gored and pleated to the waistband; it is trimmed with a knife-pleated flounce near the hemline of the broad satin-striped fabric. Images from the year 1866 in the Notman Photographic Archives also show the skirt becoming noticeably smooth in the front, with the fullness still moving towards the back. A puffed overskirt (either real or simulated) appears in the Notman Archives later in 1868. Both the simpler style, as exemplified by this McCord dress, as well as numerous variations of these modes, occur together in the Notman Photographic Archives until 1870. In this year, puffed overskirts predominate un photographs in the Archives as well as in fashion plates. A few examples of vertically-striped gowns are seen in the Notman Archives as late as 1868 and 1869. Dresses which were noticeably flat in front, if worn with a crinoline, required one of a different shape. The skirt at its base now resembled an ellipse rather than a circle. West, Bradley and Cary of New York City manufactured one which they called the "Duplex Elliptic". In April 1866 it was available in Montreal at Henry Morgan and Co., H. and H. Merrill, Murphy Bros., Gagnon. Watson and Co., Mrs. Gunn, Jas. Morison and Co. and Dufresne, Gray and Co. Obviously the manufacturer anticipated healthy sales. BEAUDOIN-ROSS, Jacqueline. Form and Fashion : Nineteenth-Century Montreal Dress, McCord Museum of Canadian History, 1992, p. 32.)

Keys to History

By the end of the 1860s, the skirt has become flat in the front, with the fullness pushed to the back. The front of the waist-length bodice features an inset area of fabric with a broad horizontal satin stripe, which is shirred. The small standing collar is of the same material, as are the belt and the narrow pleated ruche finishing the long sleeve. The front edge-to-edge closure is fastened with black metal hooks and eyes. The trained skirt, while flat in front, is elsewhere gored and pleated to the waistband. It is trimmed near the hemline with a knife-pleated flounce of the broad satin-striped fabric.

Crinolines or hoop skirts worn under dresses that were noticeably flat in front had to be of a particular shape, since the base of the skirt was now elliptic, rather than circular.

  • What

    This dress is made of silk taffeta pinstriped in royal blue and off-white enhanced by broad royal blue satin bands patterned with narrow black and off-white stripes.

  • Where

    West, Bradley & Cary of New York made the "Duplex Elliptic" hoop skirt. In April 1866, it was available at Henry Morgan and Co., H. and H. Merrill, Murphy Bros., Gagnon, Watson and Co., Mrs. Gunn, Jas. Morison and Co. and Dufresne, Gray and Co. The manufacturer evidently expected hearty sales.

  • When

    The Notman Archives photos taken in and after 1866 show that [object=I-43290]skirts[/object] were becoming noticeably smooth in the front, with the fullness moving towards the back.

  • Who

    The woman who wore this dress had to move carefully, so that the hoop skirt worn beneath it did not lift the skirt. This would have exposed her ankles, which was considered indecent.