In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Historic Clothing Collection

1850-1870

(Page 4 of 4) Print Version 

In the late 1850s early 1860s, crinolines reached their largest dimensions. A dress from this period made of a weightier ribbed gray and pale blue shot silk features cuffed pagoda sleeves and is notable, first for its very full skirt made with double box pleats on the front and sides, and triple box pleats at center back; and second, for bands of elaborate fringed and looped silk braid forming a pelerine effect on the bodice, which closes with matching large silk trimmed buttons. The braid and the buttons were probably products of the new braid and trimming branch of the nascent American silk industry. In complete contrast, a simple plain white unadorned organdy summer dress with drop shoulders, bishop sleeves and closely cartridge pleated crinoline skirt would not be out of place among the cloud of white dresses in Claude Monet’s 1866-67 painting titled Women in the Garden.

Another white organdie, a ball dress, with short frill sleeves, boat neck, and a wide green waist sash, features a flat front skirt that spreads expansively to the rear. Fashion’s skirt styling direction is made clear in the June 1867, Peterson’s Magazine which marks the beginning of the bustle era with descriptions of evening dresses flat and plain in the front with skirts gathered in a bunch at the back.