|Petit Courier des Dames, 1868. Cathy Decker.|
|La Mode Illustree, 1867. Tara Maginnis.|
While this style did involve smoothly fitted bodices with slightly raised waistlines that were straight instead of pointed, and smoothly gored skirts that lay flat except at the back where they were pleated and extended at the hem to a short train at center back, like the earlier "Empire" (English Regency) fashions, unlike them, these later styles were worn over crinoline, so they weren't exactly the "shortest, scantiest skirts" ever seen in the Western world. The style was very popular in England, and for house and country wear in the United States, if the fashion magazines can be believed. It was especially popular because the older wide coat and bishop sleeves could be taken in and made into slim coat sleeves, and the pleated and gathered skirts could be taken apart and made into the newer gored style, creating a stylish costume with comparative ease. This practical fashion seems to have lasted for 5 years, varying the look with similarly-gored over-skirts, until the growing bustle necessitated a change in the cut. While there are good patterns for this transitional style, those of us who want to make a "Second Empire" style dress can use our existing 1860s patterns to advantage for the bodice, simply raising the shoulder seam to the joint of the shoulder instead of a few inches below it, using the "round waist" option instead of the pointed one, and following these directions from Godey's Lady's Book of 1865, originating with none other than the famed Madame Demorest:
|Godey's Lady's Book, June 1865.|
"Most of the dress skirts are gored, and Mme. Demorest's method of goring is as follows: Fold over six inches on each side of the upper part of the front breadth, graduating this down two-thirds of the skirt, baste this down. The next breadth set one inch below at the bottom, and sew the straight edge to the bias line of the front breadth. Fold a gore of eight inches on the farther side of this breadth, and so continue all around the skirt, setting each breadth one inch below at the lower edge. By this method you have a handsomely gored train skirt without cutting up the material."