Dating the Green 1820s Dress

Hey Everyone!

Abby here- 
So last week I posted about the awesome green dress my mom found in a little antique store in my hometown, and when I shared the photos here and told the story of the dress, I dated the gown c. 1825. Today, I thought I would go through why I think the dress is from around that time period. Then, hopefully next week, I’ll post all about the construction details, interior photos, the yummy guts of all this. But first, let’s talk about the dating of this gown.

Here she is again, in case you’re new to the party.

Now, to be perfectly honest, this is not a time period where I feel particularly confident, I mean, let’s be honest not a lot of us seem to pay that much attention to the 1820s. We usually focus on earlier decades or we get completely blindsided by the crazy 1830s. The 1820s seems to sometimes get lost in the mix, even though 1820s is just as crazy as the 30s and has some really lovely aspects about her that make it sometimes prettier than the 1810s. So let’s look at the dress on Frankenlily and look at some of the construction and design details that I used to help me get an idea of her date and what I looked for when I compared her to other original gowns and images from the period.

Ok, so those were the immediate things I picked up on when I looked at the dress. Next, I started digging around on pinterest to see what I could find in the realm of imagery of portraits, prints, and other original gowns. I have to admit…this was tricky. There doesn’t seem to be a lot that survives from the 1820s that is simple. Most gowns in collections seem to be on the much more fashionable side of things, but I was able to find a few. Challenges were also faced for the prints and portraiture, because event though I can see some of the gown in Ackermann’s – these women are being rightly depicted as fully dressed with gowns covered in trim, and they’re wearing  belts, pelerines, bonnets, etc, and so it can be hard to see the neckline, shoulder slope, etc. So, with that in mind, some of the images were picked because the sleeve size and shape looks the same, the waist sits at a similar place, there is fullness in the skirts, etc. 

Morning Dress, Mid- 1820s, Met Museum, 1977.197.3
Morning Dress, 1827-30, Met Museum, 1981.13.1

Quaker Dress, c. 1825, MFA Boston, 53.1770

So all of these gowns seem to have at least a couple of similarities to the green dress – skirt fullness, sleeve shape and construction, sloped shoulder, and if I could – neckline. The neckline is the hardest thing to compare the green dress to others. This time of neckline does not seem to be common in original gowns in museums. As for fashion prints, like Ackermann’s below, some gowns do look like they could have a very high neckline like my dress, and others seem to have a more open neckline, in keeping with the cotton dress in the Met. 

Morning Dress, May 1825, Ackermann’s Repository (Neckline similar to the cotton Met Dress)
Morning Dress, November 1827, Ackermann’s Repository (It looks like it might have a high neck like my gown.)

Promenade Dress, August 1827, Ackermann’s Repository  (Neckline unclear)

So, after obsessively trolling everything I could find on Pinterest to help figure out the dating of this gown, I also contacted a curator friend and picked her brain about it, and she agrees that the gown appears to be from the mid to late 1820s. Since the provenance of this gown is a mystery – all we know from the dealer is that it came from an estate sale “out west”, and when you’re located east of the Mississippi river, that’s a pretty broad placement. It is always possible that this is some weird anomaly dress that might be 1830s, and it’s kept the hallmarks of earlier fashions. However, there seem to be some really good matches with the gown that are within this 3-5 year time frame. 
Next up, we’ll go through the gown’s construction details and photos. It might manage to fit all in one post, or I might break it up into “Bodice” and “Skirt”…this will depend on how much I find in the skirt and if it will warrant its own post. 
If you are a fan of the 1820s, and you know of any original images or gowns that look similar to the green dress – I would love to see them! 
Until then – have a great weekend everyone! 
<3 <3 

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