M976.2.3 | Dress
About 1836-1841, 19th century
Fibre: cotton ? (barege, lining), silk (satin, ribbon); bone; metal; Sewn (hand)
Gift of MRs. J. R. Wallace
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Dress (85)
The sleeve of this dress is an example of a type seen after the collapse of the gigot style. It is pleated to the armscye, becomes full and then is pleated to a cuff near the wrist. The pointed bodice of the one-piece dress has a wide open neckline; is gathered in the front from the upper part of the armscye to the upper part of a central seam; and has satin piping on some seams and on the outer edges of the bodice. There is one short bone down the centre seam. The back closure has draw-tapes at the neckline and brass hooks and eyes along the back. The skirt is pleated to the waistband in centre front, and gauged to it in centre back. A narrow piped band of the material forms a scallop down the left side of the skirt, which is trimmed with figured silk ribbon bows. The large gigot sleeve collapsed in 1836 and from then until about 1842 there was a great variety of sleeve styles. The fullness was often caught at the shoulder and/or wrist with gathering or pleating (sometines called "plaiting" at the time), as is done in this barège gown. A tight sleeve appeared in 1840, but is seen along with variations of the fuller sleeve just described. On May 1, 1838, The Montreal Transcript and General Advertiser noted the following varied sleeve fashions in "Ladies' Fashions for March" : an evening dress with "tight satin sleeves, with bouffant of crape" and a walking dress with "rather wide sleeves". On June 5, 1838, in its "London Fashions for May (From the London ans Paris Ladies' Magazines)", this newspaper advised "For long sleeves those most used are à la jardinière... they are full with one or more frills on the shoulder, and a wristband, ruche or plainting at the hand". Large gigot sleeves, thought to be out-of-date, were often tightened in the required areas for stylish wear, and the excess material put to good use. (Excerpt from: BEAUDOIN-ROSS, Jacqueline. Form and Fashion : Nineteenth-Century Montreal Dress, McCord Museum of Canadian History, 1992, p. 24.)
Keys to History
The leg-of-mutton sleeve was replaced by sleeves such as this one, which is pleated to the armscye (armhole) and becomes full and then is pleated to a cuff near the wrist. The pointed bodice of the one-piece dress has a wide-open neckline and is gathered in the front from the upper part of the armscye to the upper part of the central seam. Some of the seams and the outer edges of the bodice are piped in satin. There is one short bone down the centre seam. Draw-tapes at the neck and copper hooks at the waist close the dress at the back. The skirt is pleated to the waistband in centre front and gauged (cartridge pleated) to it in centre back. A narrow piped band of the material forms a scallop down the left side of the skirt, which is trimmed with figured silk ribbon bows.
The materials of this dress are barege (a lightweight fabric woven of silk or cotton and wool) woodblock printed in a sprig pattern of mauve roses and green leaves on a satin-striped cream ground, mauve and green satin, and grey figured silk ribbon bordered in green.
This dress was worn in Quebec City.
As large leg-of-mutton sleeves faded from fashion after 1836, they were often re-cut and narrowed to reflect modish tastes, and the excess fabric was put to other use.
The owner of this dress was Anne Catherine Dunn (1832-1911), who married William Rhodes in 1847.