In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Historic Clothing Collection

1850-1870

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Cameo button detail
Cameo button detail

Supported and shaped by stiff horsehair petticoats, this period's wide skirts became known as crinolines. The name derives from the French word crin meaning horsehair. Of the era, a gold/blue striped silk dress features pagoda sleeves (wide at the wrist), attached pelerine (small cape) trimmed with wide silk fringe, and a front closure with ten small circular metal shanked buttons, set with miniature cameos of either ceramic or glass. These buttons are not rare or of especially high quality, but are reflective of the era's fashion for cameo jewelry.

Other crinoline dresses also feature the fashionable pelerine look. The detached fringed pelerine on a purple shot silk ensemble matches the crinoline, with shoulder-to-waist gold fringe attached to the bodice, creating a pelerine effect. In another example, bands of sophisticated braid and fringe running from the shoulders of the bodice to center waist contrive a pelerine effect on a brown taffeta plaid dress. Although of the period, the dress includes a noticeably altered waist.