Afternoon dress


Not on view

Fashionable dress of the 1840s was inspired by Queen Victoria (1819-1901) who was crowned in 1838. Due to her modesty and youth she favored styles which were reserved as befitted a young queen. The elongated bodice and wide V-shape over the bust were essential parts of this decade and can be seen in this example. The addition of many textures from the textile pattern, fringe, tassels, and fabric manipulation through pleating, shirring and puffing, give the dress great visual appeal.

The female silhouette of the middle of the 19th century consisted of a fitted corseted bodice and wide full skirts. The conical skirts developed between the 1830s, when the high waist of the Empire silhouette was lowered and the skirts became more bell shaped, to the late 1860s, when the fullness of the skirts were pulled to the back and the bustle developed. The flared skirts of the period gradually increased in size throughout and were supported by a number of methods. Originally support came from multiple layers of petticoats which, due to weight and discomfort, were supplanted by underskirts comprised of graduated hoops made from materials such as baleen, cane and metal. The fashions during this time allowed the textiles to stand out because of the vast surface areas of the skirt and a relatively minimal amount of excess trim.

Afternoon dress, silk, British

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