The Ladies' Tea Guild

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

More summer fashion hints from Godey's of 1855

ca. 1860 sheer dress from St. Albans Museums.
Among the coolest-looking dresses for this hottest month of the year, we notice the so-called “pine-apple” tissues, that are more particularly imported by the India stores of Boston and New York.

One of these establishments is well worth a visit.  Crapes of every description in dress goods, shawls, and scarfs, cashmere shawls, pine-apple handkerchiefs of almost inconcievable fineness and delicacy, gorgeously embroidered taffetas, everything for which the India trade is celebrated, which sea captains bring, and ship owners import for their wives after a successful voyage, are here gathered together.
The pine-apple tissues of which we speak come in patterns, from ten to fourteen yards each, and are less expensive than ever before, ranging from $4 to $8.  They are in stripes, plaids, and checks, on a white ground, and almost transparent, or “see-through muslin,” as some gentleman happily characterized the present style of gossamer summer fabrics on their first introduction.  As they do not rumple or crush, they are especially suitable for flouncing.  The shade of blue, purple, green, etc., in which they come, being rather dull, a bright gauze ribbon trimming adds much to their effect, running around the edge of the flounces, and disposed on the waist and sleeves in bretelles, bows, etc., with flowing ends.

Our Parisian correspondents tell us that the reign of ribbon trimming is at its height.  “Ribbons,” says the “Moniteur,” flutter on the skirt behind, or in front, from the waist; ribbons falling from the body are now the very height of fashion;” and an article is mentioned as celebrated for “lavishing them with exceeding taste.”
Skirts are made very full.  Fashion exacts an immense use of crinoline.  Many are gathered at the waist into large round and hollow plaits.  The front of the skirt is not as full or as long as the back; the first should leave the foot visible, while the second just clears the ground, or, for evening-dress, forms a demi-rounded train.
Underskirts are arranged so as to meet the exactions of the modern hoop.  Corsets are cut much shorter, no longer compressing the hip.  Crinoline is worn with one or two flounces, the object being as much breadth as possible to the figure.  Cambric skirts, embroidered en tablier, or on the front breadth, have in a measure given place to flounced petticoats, the flounces being edged with embroidery.  When they are hemmed, a narrow straw braid is run in to stiffen them.  It is a good way to manage skirts when the hem has frayed, while the rest is unworn, as is often the case.  Cut off two or three fingers’ length from the bottom of the breadths, and add a flounce.  This prevents that ungraceful falling in of the skirt, where a graceful sweep to the ground is desireable.

There is no absolute fashion for sleeves.  Nearly every one follows her own fancy, though puffs, or wide frills from the elbow are considered the style. Undersleeves are also puffed, the fall of lace or embroidery that finishes them about the wrist coming from a loose band of insertion, √° la duchess, below the puffs.  Ribbons, from a quarter to an inch in width, are much used, in bows and loops, to separate the frills when more than one is used on chemisettes or sleeves.  Narrow black velvet loops and bows, disposed in this way, it is said, will be a striking feature the approaching fall and winter.  With low corsages, much worn the present month, a lace blonde, or muslin fichu, bretelle, or berth√© is indispensable.  There is no neck so beautiful that it is not improved by a delicate shading of lace.

Parasols, which always occupy a prominent place among the requirements of the summer season, are this year more than every varied in color, and rich in ornament.  Their variety ranges from moire silk of one plain color to the richest figured silk.  They are usually lined, and have elaborately ornamented handles. One of the newest parasols is composed of apricot-color moire, and is edged with satin stripes in white and maize-color.  At the top, it is finished by a large bow of ribbon, with flowing ends.  The stick is of wrought ivory, and the handle gilt and set with imitation emeralds.  A parasol of white moire antique, covered with guipure lace, is ornamented all over, at intervals, with small bows of ribbon.  One of the most elegant we have seen consists of plain white silk, sprigged with small rose-buds and leaves, in the natural colors of the flowers.  This parasol is lined with white, and edged with white fringe; the stick is ivory, inlaid with silver.  Among the prettiest parasols of the season may be mentioned some composed of silk of a beautiful sea-green hue, ornamented with a sprigged pattern in the same tint as the ground.  These are lined with white, and edged with green fringe.  FASHION.

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)