Category Archives: Photography

Fashion Moments – Bifurcated Skirt

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyWelcome to my weekly fashion blog post. Each week I will discuss a female garment, fashion trend or influencer from the age of photography (1840s through the 20th century). My goal is to educate family researchers and genealogists about the clothing worn by our ancestors. Dating photographs is an issue we all struggle with as family archivists. Additionally, anyone who writes about their family’s history should be aware of the environment in which their ancestors lived. Period clothing is an important part of that environment from how it affects a person’s movement to their overall lifestyle. This week I introduce you to the bifurcated skirt, a cousin to the bloomer.

Bifurcated Skirt

Bifurcated skirts were different from bloomers although they served the same purpose, allowing women more freedom of movement during athletic endeavors such as bicycling or horseback riding. While bloomers looked like baggy pants which ended typically below the knee, bifurcated skirts were pants constructed to maintain the illusion that they were still a skirt. The terms bifurcated skirt and bloomer were often used interchangeably, especially during the 1890s, when both became popular.

Gallery

A rare cycling suit owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The front panel can be buttoned across the front to cover the leg split so the garment looks like a skirt, or it can be folded over and buttoned to allow the legs to be separated during cycling. The fullness in the back obscures the split between the legs.

Various patents were filed in the 1890s for bifurcated skirts. The illustrations below are a few among dozens. The patent holders were all women.

A cowgirl in Montana wears a bifurcated skirt while riding her horse.

Montana Girl

 

Further Reading

In an April 1892 article from the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. H. Augustus Wilson recommended for his patients with lateral curvature of the spine to continue horseback riding as a form of exercise. Because his female patients were no longer able to ride side saddle, he instructed them to continue riding astride while wearing bifurcated skirts. The article can be found in volume 18, no. 14, p. 409-412.

In the article “She Rides Like A Man” from the Indianapolis News, dated 29 March 1890, Mabel Jenness fought for the abolishment of the side saddle. She proposed that women should ride astride while wearing bifurcated skirts. If you have access to Pinterest and Newspaper.com, I have clipped the article.

A women’s tailoring book from 1897, Superlative Systems of Cutting Ladies’ Garments by Charles J. Stone, included several patterns for riding and cycling skirts. The book can be found at Internet Archive and is available for download.

Images

Cycling Suit, 1896-1898. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession no.: 2009.300.532a–d

Various bifurcated skirt patent illustrations from the 1890s. These images came specifically from Ancestry.com’s database “U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patents, 1790-1909.

Montana Girl, c1909. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. Reproduction no.: LC-USZ62-72483

©2015 Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2015/10/18/fashion-moments-bifurcated-skirt/

Fashion Moments – Bloomers

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyWelcome to my weekly fashion blog post. Each week I will discuss a female garment, fashion trend or influencer from the age of photography (1840s through the 20th century). My goal is to educate family researchers and genealogists about the clothing worn by our ancestors. Dating photographs is an issue we all struggle with as family archivists. Additionally, anyone who writes about their family’s history should be aware of the environment in which their ancestors lived. Period clothing is an important part of that environment from how it affects a person’s movement to their overall lifestyle. This week I introduce you to the infamous pants known as Bloomers.

Bloomers

Bloomer CostumeThere are two phases of the bloomer style pant adopted by women in the nineteenth century. The first hit the fashion world in 1851, a few years after the women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls. Dress reform, or the rational dress movement, was another objective in the early days of the women’s rights movement. Amelia Bloomer wrote in her publication The Lily:

The costume of women should be suited to her wants and necessities. It should conduce at once to her health, comfort and usefulness; and, while it should not fail also to conduce her personal adornment, it should make that end of secondary importance.

Amelia Bloomer’s friend, Libby Miller, adopted a style of long pants covered with a short skirt in 1851. Because Amelia promoted the pants in her magazine, the style became known as “Bloomers.” And, of course, they were promptly ridiculed by the leading newspapers. This style lasted through the end of the decade, until the rise of the crinoline made it obsolete (at least for Amelia Bloomer). However, it is important to note that during the Civil War, some nurses wore bloomers for their practicality on the battlefields and in field hospitals. The more ardent dress reformers continued to wear the fashion through the 1860s.

A_poser_for_a_bloomer_John_Johnson_political_&_satirical

A politial cartoon mocking the bloomers, 1852

by Joseph B. Forster, albumen carte-de-visite, 1860s-1870s

Mary Edwards Walker, c1866

Bloomers and Bicycles

The second phase, or rebirth of the bloomers, developed with the invention of the bicycle. Cycling became increasingly popular for both sexes, reaching its peak in the 1890s. However, women’s long skirts were too dangerous to wear while riding. The dress reformers won a huge victory in their quest for rational clothing (although they still received a lot of grumbling from the press). Bloomers became the practical mode of dress for women cyclists, and they were later adapted for other athletic activities.

The Bicyle - The Great Dress Reformer of the Nineteenth Century

Gallery

Further Reading

The British Library offers many digital items online, including the Romantics and Victorians collection. A portion of a copy of the Rational Dress Society Gazette is available.

“Women on the Move: Cycling and the Rational Dress Movement” by Aaron Cripps. Posted on his blog, Cycling History, 30 January 2015.

From their website, “Bikes & Bloomers is a research project about the bike, bloomer and female cyclist in late nineteenth century Britain.” This site is fabulous! It contains a wealth of information on the history of nineteenth century women, their clothing and their bicycles. Necessity is definitely the mother of invention.

“Women on Wheels: The Bicycle and the Women’s Movement of the 1890s,” from the Annie Londonderry website by Peter Zheutlin.

Women in Pants: Manly Maidens, Cowgirls, and Other Renegades, by Catherine Smith and Cynthia Grieg. Published by Harry N. Abrams, 2003. Book is currently out of print.

“What Shall the New Woman Wear, Skirts or Bloomers?” Los Angeles Herald (Los Angeles, California) 15 September 1895, p. 14. If you have access of Newspapers.com, you will be able to read this article. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/522276888015710090/

Images

“The Bloomer Costume.” Currier & Ives print, 1851. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection. Reproduction no.: LC-USZC2-1978

“A Poser for a Bloomer,” Political cartoon circa 1852. John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera. Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford. Image from Wikipedia under a Creative Commons License.

Mary Edwards Walker, 1866. Photograph by Joseph B. Forster. National Portrait Gallery, London.

“The Bicycle – the great dress reformer of the nineteenth century.” Samuel D. Ehrhart. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection. Reproduction no.: LC-DIG-ppmsca-29031

“The Start,” 1897. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection. Reproduction no.: LC-USZ62-93792

Gym Suit, 1893-1898. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession no.: 2009.300.884a–f

©2015 Deborah Sweeney

Fashion Moments – Ebenezer Butterick

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyWelcome to my weekly fashion blog post. Each week I will discuss a female garment, fashion trend or influencer from the age of photography (1840s through the 20th century). My goal is to educate family researchers and genealogists about the clothing worn by our ancestors. Dating photographs is an issue we all struggle with as family archivists. Additionally, anyone who writes about their family’s history should be aware of the environment in which their ancestors lived. Period clothing is an important part of that environment from how it affects a person’s movement to their overall lifestyle. This week I introduce you to tailor and pattern maker, Ebenezer Butterick (1826-1903).

Ebenezer Butterick

Ebenezer Butterick was a tailor who lived in the western Massachusetts town of Sterling with his wife Ellen, a seamstress. The story begins in the winter of 1863 when Ellen was making a new dress for their young son. At that time, sewing patterns were sold in a single size and were mostly used as a guide. People had to increase or decrease the pattern’s size to suit their own individual needs. Mrs. Butterick commented to her husband that it would be so much easier if patterns came in graded sizes, and so the idea for the Butterick pattern company was born.

In the beginning, the Butterick company created patterns for men and boys. The early success of these graded patterns prompted the company to begin manufacturing patterns for women in 1866. The patterns became massively popular, especially for the middle and lower classes who could not afford to have custom-made clothing. Home sewers were now able to access the latest fashions from Paris with the convenience of receiving paper patterns in the mail (or at the local dry goods store).

Gallery

Fashion plates (below) from the November 1901 issue of The Delineator.

It is still possible to find vintage Butterick and Deltor patterns. I was fortunate to find these several years ago from the 1910s and 1920s.

Butterick

Vintage patterns from the author’s collecton

Further Reading

A more though and complete history of Ebenezer Butterick and his company can be found on the Butterick website.

Harvard University Library Open Collection Program, Women Working, 1800-1930, has several women’s magazines digitized including an issue of the Delineator (1901). The magazine began in the 1870s and featured Butterick’s patterns as well as the latest fashion advice. The Hathi Trust Digital Library gives a more thorough listing of existing digital copies of issues housed at Universities around the country. Issues date from the early 1900s through the 1930s.

An 1871 (Summer) Butterick pattern book on Internet Archive.

Not related to Butterick, I found an awesome website this week on how to date photographs from the University of Vermont. Not only does the website give dating advice for clothing and hair, but other items that might be found in photographs like buildings or cars are categorized as well.

Blog post from Diana Pemberton-Sikes titled How Ebenezer Butterick Changed the Face of Fashion on the website Fashion for Real Women.

Mabel Potter Daggett, “When the Delineator Was Young: The Story of the First Butterick Pattern and How it Multiplied,” Delineator, 76 (November 1910): 365-366. The article can be found online on Google books.

Several patents can be found for Butterick patterns in Ancestry.com‘s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patents, 1790-1909.

Delineator Butterick Advertisement

Advertisement from the Evening News (Ada, Oklahoma), 10 May 1909, p. 1. Image courtesy of Newspapers.com

Images

Quarterly Report of metropolitan fashions, Autumn 1891. Image from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog, reproduction no. LC-DIG-pga-00425

E. Butterick & Co., quarterly report of New York Fashions, for Fall 1870. Image from the Library of congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog, reproduction no. LC-DIG-pga-01506

Fashion plates from the November 1901 issue of the Delineator from the Harvard Univerity Library Open Collection.

Ellery Bicknell Crane, editor, Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County Massachusetts Memoirs with a History of Worcester Society of Antiquity (New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1907), Volume I-II, 300-301. Digital images courtesy of Ancestry.com.

Image of Ebenezer Butterick from the blog post by Diana Pemberton-Sikes. I could not find the original source of this photograph.

Butterick, Ebenezer - Obituary, 1903

Brooklyn Daily Times (Brooklyn, New York), 1 April 1903, p. 3, col. 4. Image courtesy of Newspapers.com

© 2015 Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2015/10/04/fashion-moments-ebenezer-butterick/

Fashion Moments – Cuirasse Bodice

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyWelcome to my weekly fashion blog post. Each week I will discuss a female garment, fashion trend or influencer from the age of photography (1840s through the 20th century). My goal is to educate family researchers and genealogists about the clothing worn by our ancestors. Dating photographs is an issue we all struggle with as family archivists. Additionally, anyone who writes about their family’s history should be aware of the environment in which their ancestors lived. Period clothing is an important part of that environment from how it affects a person’s movement to their overall lifestyle. This week I introduce you to the Cuirasse bodice. (I mentioned this style briefly in my bustle post.)

Cuirasse Bodice

The cuirasse bodice came into fashion in the mid 1870s and continued into the early 1880s. The bodice takes its name from the cuirass, a piece of close fitting defensive armor worn over the torso or chest. The resulting nineteenth century garment was tightly fitted and required corsets and additional boning to create the effect. A defining characteristic of the bodice is its extension below the natural waistline, often over the hips and sometimes even lower. Because the hips were so fitted, skirts were forced to became narrower (in contrast to the wider bustles and hoops earlier in the decade). In fact, the bustle almost entirely disappeared during the years 1875-1883, with extensive drapery coming to the forefront of fashion.  It was during this period that the longer “princess” seam came into prominence.

Gallery

Further Reading

Google Books has limited viewing of Alison Gernsheim’s Victorian and Edwardian Fashion: A Photographic Survey. There are several great examples of cuirasse bodices. See particularly plates 109,  121, 123, 126, 127, and 129.

Newspaper article “The Cuirasse Bodice” from the Otago Witness (Otago, New Zealand), 26 December 1874, p. 21, from the Papers Past website, the National Library of New Zealand.

Good overview of the fashion changes from 1870-1883, from the History of Fashion and Dress, by Susan Jarrett, M.ED.

Images

Wedding dress, 1879 (Brown silk with gold accents), Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession number: 2009.300.3017

Afternoon ensemble, 1878-1882 (Grey silk with fringe trim), Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession number: 2009.300.87a–c

Dress, 1878-1879 (Cream silk with asymmetrical drape), The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession number: C.I.45.38.1a, b

Digital Collection, Thomas J. Watson Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Women 1879, plates 073, 020, 036

©2015 Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2015/09/20/fashion-moments-cuirasse-bodice/

Fashion Moments – Garibaldi Shirt

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyWelcome to my weekly fashion blog post. Each week I will discuss a female garment, fashion trend or influencer from the age of photography (1840s through the 20th century). My goal is to educate family researchers and genealogists about the clothing worn by our ancestors. Dating photographs is an issue we all struggle with as family archivists. Additionally, anyone who writes about their family’s history should be aware of the environment in which their ancestors lived. Period clothing is an important part of that environment from how it affects a person’s movement to their overall lifestyle. This week I introduce you to the Garibaldi Shirt.

Garibaldi Shirt

I have previously written about the shirtwaist. The ancestor of the versatile shirtwaist was the Garibaldi shirt which first appeared in women’s fashion around 1860 and was popular during the Civil War. The shirt takes it name from the Italian folk hero Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882). He fought for Italian independence from the Austrian Empire. His followers were known as “Redshirts” for the colorful red shirts which they wore as their uniform.

The Garibaldi shirt was often worn with the Zouave jacket but there are many examples of the shirt being worn alone. While the original Garibaldi shirts were red, they eventually were made in other colors, from light white and beige to solid blue and patterned calicoes. One of the advantages of the shirt was its simplicity and the ease of movement that it afforded. The shirts were made from a variety of fabrics from cotton muslin to merino wool. They could be very plain or decorated with pin tucks, ruffles and lace collars.

Godey’s Lady’s Magazine offered a selection of variations of the Garibaldi shirt, including one with a Zouave jacket for a young girl, in 1864.

While the Garibaldi shirt was fashionable, it was also practical. Sleeves could easily be rolled up when work needed to be done. When the work was done, the shirts were easier to launder and clean. The two girls in the photograph below (sisters Lucretia and Louisa Crossett) were texile workers. While their shirts are very plain, if you click to enlarge the photograph, you can see their delicate lace collars at their necklines.

Garibaldi Shirt #1

Further Reading

Basic history of Giuseppe Girabaldi and his Redshirts on wikipedia.

Julia Ditto Young, “The Rise of the Shirt Waist,” Good Housekeeping 34 (May 1902) : 354-357; Cornell University online library here

Article on the Garibaldi shirt from the Victoriana Magazine online.

The Barrington House has a wonderful collection of Civil War photographs on their website. There are several great examples of women wearing Garibaldi shirts. A good indication of whether a woman was wearing a shirt/skirt combination vs. a dress is the color. If the top is light, but the skirt is dark, it is likely a shirt. If both the top and skirt are the same color or patterned fabric, it’s a dress.

Images

I strive to use only photographs and images on my website that are copyright free (public domain), and to provide the proper attrition to the original source. I often find great examples of fashion items but can not post them here. The most common reason (I don’t post a picture) is that I can not find the original source of an item that has already been posted on the web to sites like Pinterest.

Thomas J. Watson Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Costume Institute Fashion Plates, Women 1862, Plate 117.

Thomas J. Watson Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Costume Institute Fashion Plates, Women 1863, Plate 48.

Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Collection. Sisters Lucretia Electa and Louisa Ellen Crossett in identical skirts… Call no.: AMB/TIN no. 2112

Sources

Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine 68 (January 1864) : 81; and, Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine 68 (June 1864) : 565; Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org).

© 2015 Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2015/09/13/fashion-moments-garibaldi-shirt/

 

Fashion Moments – Bolero & Zouave Jackets

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyWelcome to my weekly fashion blog post. Each week I will discuss a female garment, fashion trend or influencer from the age of photography (1840s through the 20th century). My goal is to educate family researchers and genealogists about the clothing worn by our ancestors. Dating photographs is an issue we all struggle with as family archivists. Additionally, anyone who writes about their family’s history should be aware of the environment in which their ancestors lived. Period clothing is an important part of that environment from how it affects a person’s movement to their overall lifestyle. This week I introduce you to the Bolero and Zouave jackets.

The Jackets

A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion: Historic and Modern describes the Bolero jacket as a “short jacket no longer than normal waistline, with or without sleeves. Worn open in front over bodice or blouse. Spanish in origin.” In comparison, the Zouave jacket is described as a “woman’s short jacket with rounded front, made in imitation of [the] jacket of [the] Zouave uniform. Sometimes sleeveless.” The descriptions of the two types of jackets are quite similar. For this post it is not important to know the subtle differences between the two styles but rather that the style of jacket was popular during the Civil War years. One of the reasons behind the popularity was the use of a Zouave style jacket in many volunteer units.  The French Zouaves were an elite military force during the nineteenth century.  Because the Civil War was an overwhelming influence on the lives of all Americans (including women), ladies’ fashion adopted some military characteristics, including the use of a Zouave style jacket. While the construction of the garment could be quite simple, existing examples of these garments show extensive embroidery and trimmings.

Many of the popular ladies’ magazines published fashion plates and patterns for Zouave jackets. Godey’s Lady’s magazine published many versions of the jacket, including this early one from 1859. Below are some plates and patterns from other periodicals of the day.

The Library of Congress’ collection of Prints and Photographs has many examples of Zouave jackets, including these two photographs from between 1860-1865.

Further Reading

Costume historian and technician, Quinn M. Burgess, wrote an excellent piece on her website about the Bolero and Zouave jackets.

Brief article from the Smithsonian on the influence of the Zouave on Union and Confederate uniforms.

The Newberry Library and the Terra Foundation have an online exhibit “Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North.” They briefly discuss the Zouave soldiers in the Civil War and their influence on fashion.

While searching for additional images, I came across an online exhibit from the University of Maryland titled “Woman on the Border: Maryland Perspectives of the Civil War.

Images

Reddish brown silk dress, American, 1860-1865. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession no: C.I.50.105.16a, b

White with black embroidery promenade dress, American, 1862-1864. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession no: C.I.60.6.11a, b

Yellow pattern silk dress with green trim, French, 1862. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession no: 1973.244.1a–c

Thomas J. Watson Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Women 1860-1861, plates 56, 114

Thomas J. Watson Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Women 1862, plates 92

Thomas J. Watson Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Women 1863, plate 8

Unidentified woman, c1860-1863. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection. Call number: LOT 6286, p. 29

Unidentified soldier with two women, c1861-1865. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection. Call number: AMB/TIN no. 2703

Sources

Picken, Mary Brooks. A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion: Historic and Modern. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc. 1985.

©2015 Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2015/09/06/fashion-moments-bolero-zouave-jackets/

Fashion Moments – Middy Blouse

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyWelcome to my weekly fashion blog post. Each week I will discuss a female garment, fashion trend or influencer from the age of photography (1840s through the 20th century). My goal is to educate family researchers and genealogists about the clothing worn by our ancestors. Dating photographs is an issue we all struggle with as family archivists. Additionally, anyone who writes about their family’s history should be aware of the environment in which their ancestors lived. Period clothing is an important part of that environment from how it affects a person’s movement to their overall lifestyle. This week I introduce you to the middy blouse.

Middy Blouse (the sailor shirt)

Picture the scene from the movie The Sound of Music when Maria first enters the Von Trapp household. The Captain pulls out his bosun’s whistle and proceeds to call his children from every corner of the house. When they arrive, all are dressed in sailor uniforms.

For many decades, children have worn school and gym uniforms based upon the humble sailor’s shirt. Summer camps and early bathing costumes have also utilized a similar design. The style crossed over into mainstream fashion throughout the 20th century. While many tops can claim to be a sailor shirt, a middy blouse is a unique garment. While the fit and general style of the middy blouse has been influenced from time to time by minor fashion trends, the basic parameters of the shirt have not changed. A true middy blouse was made of lightweight cotton duck fabric (also called jean cloth) or wool and was not meant to be “tucked in.” During the 1920s, for example, middy blouses sometimes were constructed with a hip band (a popular shirt style of the time), instead of falling straight from the shoulders to the hip.

The authentic middy blouse came into existence around 1910. In its early decades, the shirt retained the full sailor collar. Later versions dropped the collar and even the sleeves. Although hard to tell in black and white photographs, middy shirts were made in multiple colors (not just white or navy).

YEG1916

A teen-aged Ruth Yegerlehner (far right) wears a sailor style shirt in the 1910s. This is NOT a middy blouse.

Students from Clay City High c1918-1922. Several girls are wearing middy blouses.

Further Reading

A wonderful photographic essay on the “History of the Middy” can be found of the Fuzzielizzie Vintage Clothing website. Additionally, Fuzzielizzie wrote a post on a vintage 1920s lavender middy blouse set on her blog the Vintage Traveler.

Peter Thomson (or Thompson) was a tailoring house in New York and Philadelphia around 1900. He designed sailor suits for women and children. Eventually, his clothing style was adopted universally for school uniforms. The Catholic Church was an early promoter of the “Peter Thomson” dress in their institutions. The book Common Threads: A Cultural History of Clothing in American Catholicism by Sally Dwyer-McNulty can be found on Google books.

Images

  1. Four women from Clay County, Indiana, c1915. Photograph from the author’s personal collection.
  2. Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog, Spring 1915, 261. Image courtesy of Ancestry.com.
  3. Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog, Spring 1926, 60. Image courtesy of Ancestry.com.
  4. Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog, Spring, 1935, 61. image courtesy of Ancestry.com.
  5. Clay City High School, Clay City, Indiana, c1918-1922. Photograph from the author’s personal collection.

©2015 Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2015/08/23/fashion-moments-middy-blouse/

Fashion Moments – Pigeon Breast

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyWelcome to my weekly fashion blog post. Each week I will discuss a female garment, fashion trend or influencer from the age of photography (1840s through the 20th century). My goal is to educate family researchers and genealogists about the clothing worn by our ancestors. Dating photographs is an issue we all struggle with as family archivists. Additionally, anyone who writes about their family’s history should be aware of the environment in which their ancestors lived. Period clothing is an important part of that environment from how it affects a person’s movement to their overall lifestyle. This week I introduce you to the “pigeon breast” bodice.

Bodice and Shirtwaist Styles

At the end of the 1890s (about 1897-9), the shape of the female bodice began to change. Tops became fuller in front, predominantly at the waistline. Gathering or pleating typically controlled the excess of fabric, and kept this fullness to the front.  The shape is often compared to a pigeon’s breast which is typically thrust forward (hence the name). Another term which is used synonymously with “pigeon breast” is the monobosom. The overall silhouette of the period resembles the letter “S” as the breast is pushed forward and the posterior is forced back. Newer corset styles enforced this shape. Fashion magazines of the time generally exaggerated this “S” curve. Belts or sashes were a common accessory.  By 1905, the style was beginning to fade, and was gone by 1910.

[The “pigeon breast” should not be confused with the gathered bodices of the end the 1900s and the 1910s. As the decade advanced, waistlines rose higher than the natural waist while the “pigeon breast” remained at the natural waist and ofttimes dipped lower in front.]

Further Reading

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s website contains several pages covering the History of Fashion. A brief summary is given for both male and female clothing, arranged by decade.

The Vintage Fashion Guild publishes a fashion timeline on their website, beginning in 1800 and ending at 1990. Fashions are broken down by decade.

Fashion and textile historian, Leimomi Oakes, from Wellington, New Zealand, writes about and critics vintage clothing found in museums around the world. Her website has an online Historical Fashion and Textile Encyclopedia. Currently, the page is a work in progress, and mainly focuses on different types of fabric/textiles.

The Vintage Victorian website has an article by Catherine Bishop, focusing on ladies’ evening dress from 1899-1905.

Images

Pink afternoon dress by Jacques Doucet, French, c1903. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession no. 2009.300.1153a, b

Blue afternoon dress by M. Davey & Company, American, c1898-1900. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession no. 2009.300.907a, b

Fashion plates from the Thomas J. Watson Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Costume Institute Fashion Plates: Women 1900-1914, Plates no. 68, 75, 77

©2015 Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2015/08/16/fashion-moments-pigeon-breast/

Fashion Moment – Pagoda Sleeve

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyWelcome to my weekly fashion blog post. Each week I will discuss a female garment, fashion trend or influencer from the age of photography (1840s through the 20th century). My goal is to educate family researchers and genealogists about the clothing worn by our ancestors. Dating photographs is an issue we all struggle with as family archivists. Additionally, anyone who writes about their family’s history should be aware of the environment in which their ancestors lived. Period clothing is an important part of that environment from how it affects a person’s movement to their overall lifestyle. This week I introduce you to the pagoda sleeve.

Pagoda Sleeve

While the term pagoda sleeve has been used to describe any funnel shaped sleeve, this week we will look specifically at the sleeve worn in the 1850s and into the mid 1860s. The pagoda sleeve of this period was narrower at the shoulder, and very wide at the wrist. Often an undersleeve was worn under the outer pagoda sleeve. The undersleeve would have been of a lighter weight cotton or linen fabric, matching the bodice’s chemisette or collar. As the Civil War advanced the pagoda sleeve was replaced by the bishop and bell sleeves. A bell sleeve appears to have been very similar to the pagoda sleeve [in fact I have seen the terms used interchangeably]. By 1864, the term pagoda sleeve had disappeared from the fashion plates. [1] There appears to have been a brief revival of pagoda style sleeves in the 1870s, although not quite to the size (width) in the 1850s. A variation of the pagoda sleeve during the 1850s was constructed of layering tiers.

Further Reading

A brief overview of the clothing of the 1850s and 1860s from Illinois State University.

The book Clothing Through American History: The Civil War through the Gilded Age, 1861-1899 by Anita Stamper and Jill Condra discusses the Pagoda sleeve and many other 19th century fashions. While the book is available for sale on Amazon, it is rather pricey. It can be searched on a limited basis through Google books.

I found a new online resource from the Chester County (Pennsylvania) Historical Society. They have a small collection of clothing on their website.

Sources

[1] Anita Stamper and Jill Condra, Clothing Through American History: The Civil War through the Gilded Age, 1861-1899 (Santa Barbara: Greenwood, 2011), 96.

Priscilla Harris Dalrymple, American Victorian Costume in Early Photographs (New York: Dover Publications, 1991), 16.

Images

Wedding Dress, 1851 (gold, silk). Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession no. 2009.300.858a, b

Walking Dress, 1865 (green/black plaid, silk). Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession no. 2009.300.3336a, b

Dress, 1860 (white/beige pattern, cotton). The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession no. C.I.38.23.59a, b

Dress, 1859 (gold, with embroidered edges). The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession no. C.I.52.55a, b

©2015 Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2015/08/09/fashion-moment-pagoda-sleeve/

Fashion Moments – Beret

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyWelcome to my weekly fashion blog post. Each week I will discuss a female garment, fashion trend or influencer from the age of photography (1840s through the 20th century). My goal is to educate family researchers and genealogists about the clothing worn by our ancestors. Dating photographs is an issue we all struggle with as family archivists. Additionally, anyone who writes about their family’s history should be aware of the environment in which their ancestors lived. Period clothing is an important part of that environment from how it affects a person’s movement to their overall lifestyle. This week I introduce you to the beret with thanks to reader Jackie Dinnis with her question about some 1930s berets providing this week’s inspiration.

Beret

In basic terms, the beret is a round, brimless hat which generally fits around the crown of the head. It is a soft hat without stiffening. Traditional French and Basque berets are made from felted wool, but different fabrics have been used to create a beret like velvet or cotton. The size and shape of this hat has been adapted and refashioned for millennia. According to several websites, the history of the beret is long and its origins are no longer known. Nowadays, most people think of the French when it comes to berets or elite military groups such as the Green Berets.

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Some modern berets (Photograph by the author)

1930s

During the 1930s, the French beret became iconic with Hollywood movie starts like Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. The beret quickly made its way into popular fashion. While it did not remain in the forefront of fashion, the hat has never completely disappeared in modern times. The style emerged again in the 1950s and 1960s with the beatnik generation.

Further Reading

A great history of the beret from Hat Tales.

More about military beret styles from blueberet.org

An overall history of hats with a descriptive list of some different hat styles from hatbox.com

Thinking of buying a traditional-styled French beret? Check out the website of Laulhère-France! They have included a “Some History” tab with a great review of the beret’s influence and history.

Blog Post from Glamour Daze regarding the French Beret in the 1930s.

Images

Marlene Dietrich, 1933. Image from the German Federal Archives via Wikipedia.

Sears catalog, Fall 1931. Image from Ancestry.com‘s collection of Sears, Roebuck and Co., 1896-1993.

©2015 Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2015/08/02/fashion-moments-beret/