Late Victorian Era Fashion Chit Chat - February 1876 Domestic Monthly
Review of Fashions
An irrepressible desire for novelty is never more conspicuous than during the closing weeks of a fashion period, when inquirers are again and again assured that there is nothing new within the reach of any one. The demand refuses to be quieted with any acknowledged shortness of supplies, and the close of the season thus becomes notable for the remarkable amount of experimenting, which distinguishes it. Extremes are as common as at the opening of a new period, although these consist either of novel dispositions of garnitures, or the conspicuous effects which are always produced by intensifying fashions already in vogue. The revival of the polonaise, alluded to in a previous number, has now become absolute, securing as great a degree of popularity as was given to this excellent style, upon its first introduction. Lingering weeks of winter exhibit polonaises of black velvet, marked by an elegant simplicity as to garniture, the ordinary model being so extravagantly lengthened in many cases that the one garment becomes a sweeping robe, which is worn without the skirt portion of the toilette. With looping, this Princesse polonaise forms an admirably drpaed garment, which is worn over a skirt corresponding in its general features. Polonaises of damask silk and woolen suitings, show the peculiarities of a pelisse, in respect to loopings or drapery effects, while a popular fancy for young ladies is the simulation of a basque for the front, and a plain, slightly-draped back, or contrariwise, a gracefully wrinkled apron-front, with a looped back, completed with shirrs, frills, and elaborate sash-ends. Several novelties, introduced for young ladies' evening dresses, are made from the same basque designs which have served all through the season. One, variously called the armor basque, corset-waist, and long cuirasse basque, is the familiar model, lengthened to what at first appears to be an extreme depth at the front, the back being much shorter. No over-skirt is worn with such a basque, the desired effect of skirt drapery being provided by certain features of trimming. Low-necked corset-basques of this variety, are made with extra side bodies at the back, thus showing five seams, while the fronts are formed with double darts, the skirt portion of the garment being extended according to individual taste. While such extremes mark basque models for showy toilettes, the greatest possible freedom is permitted for all other varieties. The depth of a basque-skirt is determined by its adaptability of shape to the figure which it is intended to cover, and the same rule will apply to the collarette, revers, upright collar, or handsomely outlined Pompadour form, which may be seen between the shoulders, both at the back and front.
The only variation in skirts to be set down for the current month is the abandonment of very long trains for evening costumes, and the gathering of moderately long back-breadths into a more positive, fan-like shape. The effect of this comely little bit of drapery is compact in the extreme, the finely-pleated extension being held in the nicest precision by means of elastic ribbons placed at about two-thirds of the distance down upon the breadths. No fresh model is required for the correct representation of such a skirt, the effect being caused by changing the box-pleats of the back-breadths into fine side-pleats, at a proper point, and giving the desired flare and fan-like appearance by lining the extension with crinoline, and securing the width into the required compass by means of elastics. Walking-skirts continue to clear the foot in front, and for a short distance at the sides they are equally short. At the back they touch the ground, and show the pleats of the back-breadth, massed directly at the centre, and quite low. The mistake generally made in draping skirts proper is in placing the elastics which hold the breadths back too high upon the skirt.
Square as well as round apron-fronts prove lasting in their popularity among over-skirt designs, variety as well as novelty being obtained by individual fancies in looping. Frequently, a full over-skirt model is caught up at one side only, while the opposite undraped side is ornamented with a pocket so elaborate as to supply a most showy effect.
Some of the richest toilettes provided for the festival season exhibit the familar over-skirt design which simulates triple aprons, this style being especially popular because of the opportunity afforded for elaboration. A striking fancy in evening toilettes for young ladies, in their first society season, is the absence of an over-skirt, or even the simulation of one. The single skirt worn is handsomely trimmed around the foot, and is completed with large puffs at the back, after the style of skirts made to be accompanied by a tablier only. The general taste, however, is for over-skirt models which drape handsomely, and upon which the stylish garnitures at present in vogue will be most effectively represented.
Newest suggestions as to sleeves are that special designs accompany special toilettes more positively than they have heretofore. With an evening costume the Marie Antoinette sleeve is covered two-thirds of its distance above the elbow with a garniture which corresponds with other portions of the toilette. At the elbow double flounces of lace are seen, reaching nearly to the wrist. Coat-shaped velvet sleeves are left open as far as the elbow frequently, a fluted fall of white lace showing below the opening. Sleeves accompanying basques laced up at the front and back, are laced upon the outside seam, disclosing a narrow puff of silk, velvet, or whatever material may harmonize most suitably with the toilette.