M971.105.8.1-3 | Dress

 
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Dress
About 1843-1846, 19th century
Fibre: silk (shot taffeta, passementerie), cotton (lining); bone; metal; Sewn (hand)
Gift of Mrs. J. Reid Hyde
M971.105.8.1-3
© McCord Museum
Description
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Description

By 1842, a new style of dress reveals a quality of restraint in overall colour and line. The two-piece dress, made of fashionable warp-printed taffeta in a muted colour, has a deep-pointed fitted bodice. It features a gathered bodice with an oval neckline bordered by shirring and long sleeves with mancherons set into low armscyes. The lower centre front of the bodice is gathered into horizontal lines of shirring which rise above the deep point. Braid trims the mancherons and embellishes the sleeves in an inverted V configuration at the sides. There are three bones on the front of the bodice and two side seams, and there is a back closure. The skirt has a bag pocket to the right and is gauged into the waistline. It is embellished in the front with four vertical narrow flat frills trimmed with braid, echoing the elongated line suggested by the point in the bodice. Bodices with similar gathering became fashionable from around 1843, and continued to be so into the fifties. A tight sleeve, in both long and short versions, was well-established by 1842. Godey's Lady's Book (March 1843, p. 156) noted that "Her Majesty was habited in an elegant evening costume... the corsage à point... very short tight sleeves." The method of gauging a skirt to a bodice predominated during the years 1841-1846. As well as in Philadelphia's Godey's Lady's Book, Montrealers could follow news of the latest styles elsewhere. For instance, the Montreal Gazette at this time published notes on London and Paris fashions; and The Illustrated London News, which likewise contained information on modish dress, and Punch, or the London Charivari, which often mocked the same, were imported into the city by mail steamer. (Excerpt from: BEAUDOIN-ROSS, Jacqueline. Form and Fashion : Nineteenth-Century Montreal Dress, McCord Museum of Canadian History, 1992, p. 26.)

Keys to History

By 1842, dresses had become more subdued in overall colour and line. This two-piece dress is made of fashionable warp-printed taffeta in a muted colour. It features a fitted and gathered deep-pointed bodice with an oval neckline bordered by shirring and long sleeves with mancherons (sleeve caps) set into low armscyes (armholes). The lower centre front of the bodice is gathered into horizontal lines of shirring that rise above the deep point. Braid trims the mancherons and embellishes the sleeves in an inverted V configuration at the sides. The bodice is reinforced with three bones (stays) in the front and two in the side seams; it closes at the back. The skirt has a bag pocket on the right and is gauged (cartridge pleated) to the waistline. It is embellished in the front with four vertical, narrow flat frills trimmed with braid, echoing the elongated line suggested by the bodice point.

  • What

    This dress is made of soft brown and blue shot-silk taffeta with tan motifs, and cream and light blue braid.

  • Where

    Thanks in part to various publications, Montreal was very well informed about fashion in the 19th century.

  • When

    Gathered bodices came into vogue around 1843 and remained fashionable into the 1850s.

  • Who

    Mrs. W. R. Bertram owned this dress.