|Dress, c. 1835 - FIDM|
Spending so long in the 18th century has raised the bar for me, in terms of costume research, context, and construction. Gone are the days of throwing together something vaguely resembling an inspiring photo in the Kyoto Costume Institute book for a ball at the weekend. Now I want to know all I can about the material culture, current events, regional happenings, favored textiles, their manufacture, dress construction and by whom, and on and on. Context adds a richness to making and wearing the garment that I really enjoy to where I can no longer do without it...like Starbucks.
|Dress, 1831-35, Cora Ginsburg|
The insane silhouette we most associate with the 1830s was actually in fashion for quite a short time. The very end of the 1820s saw the ballooning of the gigot sleeves, which then deflated just a few years later by the middle of the 1830s. I'm tickled by this because we see its like throughout history. What outlandish fashions can you think of that have come to represent an entire period or decade?
The gigot sleeves were not all there was to the early 1830s silhouette, though. I see a combination of shapes that add up to a whole with a very particular effect. In my opinion women were, by these fashions, made to look like dolls. I am reminded of the Russian nesting dolls I had as a child - big round heads, sloping shoulders and full busts, and a dome-shaped skirt ending quite at or above the ankle. The effect is diminutive no matter the height of the woman. I can see that skipping just one elements of this ensemble will throw off the look entirely. Go big or go home!
|A typical fashion print, c. 1830-35|
- A bodice cut wide across the shoulders and neckline.
- Utterly enormous sleeves tapering and well-fitted from elbow to wrist.
- A sloping pelerine, canezou, capelet, or falling collar. The slope and breadth over the shoulders is key, and the opportunities for fluff here are enticing.
- A narrow waist with a straight-cut waistline and a wide belt.
- A full, dome-shaped skirt, ankle-length.
- A very large, very round hat or bonnet stacked with trimmings
Round round round. Everything is round and soft and sloped. So desirable was the roundness of form that the profile altogether was obscured by broad-brimmed bonnets in favor of a perfectly oval face. The only thing that isn't round seems to be the shoes, with their sharply squared toes (lol.)
|Dargate Swatch Book, c. 1830. My gown will be made out of approximately zero of these fabrics, but it's incredible to see the variety available. Thanks, roller printing!|
Speaking of underpinnings, the only thing I get to carry over is my late 18th century shift. Though there were other designs popping up by the 1830s, the basic shift was still well in use. Hooray for that - at least I have one piece already! As for the rest, I need:
- Stays/Corset - I've found reference to both terms being used. India rubber elastic was also being used in stays but I'm not sure how - references indicate use for straps.
- Split drawers
- Corded petticoat, starched to eternity.
- Bustle - appears to be stacks of ruffles, maybe horsehair, worn over the corded petticoat.
- Possibly/probably one other petticoat, maybe flounced.
- Sleeve puffs - these are optional, but I want!
|1830s Underpinnings - FIDM|
Okay, so that wasn't *everything* I learned this past weekend, but it was rather a lot. The plan is forming and I'm getting inspired and excited. Yay!
For those wishing to add to your libraries concerning the 1830s, here is my book list:
- The Workwoman's Guide by a Lady: A Guide to 19th Century Decorative Arts, Fashion and Practical Crafts
- The Art of Dress: Clothes Through History 1500-1914
- English Women's Clothing in the Nineteenth Century
- Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen's Dresses and Their Construction C. 1660-1860
- The Cut of Women's Clothes: 1600-1930
- The History of Underclothes
- The Lady's Stratagem: A Repository of 1820s Directions for the Toilet, Mantua-Making, Stay-Making, Millinery & Etiquette
- Corsets: Historical Patterns & Techniques
- Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century
- French Fashion Plates of the Romantic Era in Full Color: 120 Plates from the "Petit Courrier des Dames," 1830-34