Thursday, December 6, 2012

Inspiration for the Brown Wool Dress

When I was researching 1880's fashions for the brown wool dress, I first tried to look at as many photos from the period as I could. Second I looked at extant pieces, and third I browsed fashion plates. I tried to go for actual photos to get the real "look" of an outfit, before I started cutting and sewing.

c. 1880's carte de visite from my collection

I like her. She looks friendly!

I saved loads of pictures of CDV's and cabinet cards from eBay and etsy, since obviously, it wasn't possible to buy all of them. I was especially inspired by the above picture, so I was thrilled when it was still for sale after I finished the dress.

I bought it and it just came in the mail yesterday! Yay! 

This picture really inspired the pleating on the front of my bodice. It also steered me away from a bonnet and toward a tall hat. Someone referred to this style as a "flower pot" hat. It really does look like a pot, turned upside down! 

I kept going back to this picture as I sewed. I love how the bodice is pulling a bit and she's a little wrinkly all over. It reminded me that I was making real clothes, not a costume, perpetually steamed, pressed and flawless on a mannequin.

Another picture I fell in love with is the photograph of Louise, Princess Royal (#157) in Alison Gernsheim's book, Victorian and Edwardian Fashion, A Photographic Survey. In the book, it's a full length shot of the same outfit, pictured below. Great book.

Louise, Princess Royal.
Wikimedia Commons.

Actually, online I found a scan of the full length photo. Click here for it. The size of her bustle is interesting, considering I didn't see too many prominent bustles in the CDV's and cabinet cards I studied. Whereas, they were ALL over the fashion plates of the era. Interesting to see what everyday ladies wore. Perhaps Princess Louise was quite fashionable, being a royal and all... Thoughts?


  1. I just love Louise's hat! And you can see how picture-perfect she and her outfit are. Precise, impeccable tailoring.

  2. I love the research you do for your gowns.

    1. Thanks! I've been trying to improve my researching skills :)

  3. I agree with Lady Carolyn. Your research is noteworthy, and obviously pays off!

    1. Thank you! And p.s., I am still trying to find a moment to do a post on the salt cellars!