M9126.96.36.199-2 | Dress
1862-1864, 19th century
Purchase from Mrs. Charles Stirling Whiteside
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Dress (85)
This dress shows the very full elliptical skirt shape typical of the early 1860s. Such a voluminous skirt comprises many widths of fabric, with longer lengths in the back to accommodate the fuller part of the hoop crinoline. In this skirt, strategically placed deep knife and box pleats serve to create a relatively flat waistband without any volume that might compromise the appearance of a slender waistline. The bodice has the fashionable full coat sleeve, slightly curved to follow the shape of the arm. Small epaulettes over the upper sleeve and the low horizontal placement of the trim on the bodice front give emphasis to the dropped armscye. The bodice front forms a point just below the natural waistline and ends at the waistline in back, with two long, narrow panels that extend beyond the skirt and draw further attention to the fullness of the back. The ruched silk taffeta trim on the bodice is in the very fashionable mauve colour of the late 1850s and early 1860s, and may have been dyed with mauveine. Mauveine was the first synthetic dye discovered by William Perkin just a few years earlier. Perkin's discovery marked the beginning of the synthetic dye industry and heralded an entirely new range of brilliant fashionable shades.