Romantic Era Gowns – c. 1820s-1830s

I have a bit of an itch to make something late 1820s, 1830s.  Crazy, I know.  Crazy GIGOT SLEEVES! Crazy!

But…but…some are quite pretty. And it’s a most unloved era.  I feel a great challenge in getting the silhouette correct, so I may have to give it a go.  Here are some stomachable examples (in my opinion):

Ball dress of cream silk net embroidered in gold metal strip. late 1820s, Via
The Met, 1830, British
abiti antichi, 1829, Via
Romantic-period hand-embroidered silk taffeta dress with large gigot sleeves, c.1830. Via
MFA, French Ball Gown, 1825, Via

I’ll end with my most favorite Romantic garment ever, this pink gown from LACMA. I think if I try for this period, I will try to make this one…

LACMA, 1830, Via

This gown is pink silk satin with an overlay of organza beaded with imitation pearls.  I find it stunningly beautiful and incredibly challenging, especially all those pearls, but so drool-worthy! So…perhaps Costume College next year? pressure!


  • Unknown

    October 25, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    dont forget the sleeve supports when setting out the appropriate underpinnings. there is no way that lovely pink dress's sleeves will stand in that shape without them

    • Lauren Stowell

      October 26, 2013 at 2:43 AM

      I shall! In the LACMA book it says that the beret sleeves were lined with stiff woven horsehair, then pleated into position, with the top pleats opposing the direction of the bottom ones. COOL! I can't wait to try that!

  • Zach

    October 25, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    Crazy? Crazy fun! I personally love the 1830s. There's just so much silliness going on! I've always felt a bit bad for it; like you said, it really is unloved, and hardly anyone ventures into it very often (at least from what I've seen). I'd say give it a go if you'd like! I'll certainly love seeing the finished dress!

  • Gina

    October 25, 2013 at 8:13 PM

    Hey Lauren!

    First off Congratulations on your wedding!! Huzzah!! That first dress is fabulous and I have adored the wonderful pink color of the last one for some time. And berthas are a lovely thing aren't they? Can't wait to see what you come up with!!



    • Lauren Stowell

      October 26, 2013 at 2:44 AM

      I've never successfully made a bertha, but I haven't tried for some time. I have ideas. 🙂 Lots of experimentation!

  • Thread-Head

    October 25, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    I love the Romantic era! It's wacky and extreme, but there is loveliness in them thar hills! I'm dredging through the last of a hideous school project, but I have a bundle of faux-roller print cotton and a picture from the New Brunswick Museum of some Romantic awesomeness waiting for me on the other side.

  • Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

    October 25, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    Go for it! I adore the plaid dress and if you don't get the sleeves just right, it is a busy enough design to cover any pleats gone wrong.

  • Katy Werlin

    October 25, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    I'm going to make a crazy 1830s dress some day, and I'm really excited to do the crazy hair!! With huge side curls and maybe an arrow through my bun……

  • Caroline

    October 26, 2013 at 4:05 AM

    Ahh!!!! I have been secretly, guiltily, drooling over this stuff lately. And I was about to say costume college?… And then you said it! So…. Costume college meet up perhaps in the future…. Hmm….

  • Lynn Brooks

    October 26, 2013 at 5:36 AM

    I had never been a fan of romantic era until I saw some really pretty understated gowns someone made. I'm starting to see more things I like in this period now. Like the brown frock at the top and although the plaid is a little loud, I'm really feeling it. Can't wait to see what you make and I especially can't wait to see what you do with your hair. And congratulations on your wedding, may you have a forever of happiness.

    • Lynn Brooks

      October 28, 2013 at 3:03 AM

      when you figure out the hair, I want a tutorial. Which reminds me, I may need to pick your brains about finger wave clips, I remember you have some, and im having a bit of a time with them.

  • mr.darcy1

    October 26, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    I love the saggy elbow look of the late 1830s. There's a wonderful star print dress from the Tasha Tudor auction years ago that I just adore!

  • Time Traveling in Costume

    October 26, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    I love this era too just for its quirkiness, and not many people wear it. But I like the collapsed sleeves better, either by gathering the fullness down, or with bands holding them down. I have two in the works. I'm still using the TV pattern for mine. Are you going to make your own pattern?

    • Lauren Stowell

      October 26, 2013 at 6:14 PM

      I'll admit I'm a little gun shy on patternmaking at the moment. I almost always mess the armscyes up somehow, so for this one I'm going to use the Truly Victorian pattern, with alterations

  • AuntieNan

    October 26, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    The toughest bit about wearing this era is keeping the sleeves at the proper dropped angle of the neckline. To wear it successfully you can't really raise your arms. For t hat reason, I also would pick the last style–it seems higher in the shoulder. Although I adore that first brown one. So very Misses Rivers from JANE EYRE!
    keep me posted on how it goes! I've never had time or patience to do the beaded embroidery!

    • Lauren Stowell

      October 26, 2013 at 6:14 PM

      I agree. At one time the lack of mobility didn't bother me, but now I'm over it. I'd like to be able to get my teacup to my mouth, thankyouverymuch!

  • Calevey’s Closet

    October 27, 2013 at 3:55 AM

    This is a period that scares me just from the aspect of getting the silhouette right. Kudos for jumping on the challenge and good luck!

  • Vincent Briggs

    October 27, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    This will be interesting! I've always hated the 1830's silhouette, but so many of the dresses from that time have gorgeous details, and ridiculous costumes are fun!

    There is one 1820's dress that I really like, even though the sleeve shape is one I usually hate.

    I didn't like it the first time I saw it, but then I got this mental image of a badass lady wearing this dress and riding a crocodile through a swamp, now I think it's awesome and I want to wear it to a swamp. I should draw a picture of that.

  • Jennifer Rosbrugh

    October 27, 2013 at 9:48 PM

    HEART 1830s!! And have sewn a few of them. I have new 1838 dress in the works that didn't get done for CoCo this year but will most likely be my gala dress in 2014. Let's bring in the Romantic Era! Looking forward to seeing your project.


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