Late Victorian Era Fashion Chit Chat - June 1889 Peterson's Magazine
For summer dresses, the round belted bodice is very popular. Plaits, gathers, collars, and vests are seen in all the new dresses; somehow and somewhere, a trimming of some kind must be placed. To nearly all figures, this is becoming; to the very slender, eminently so; to the fuller figure, a long revers from the shoulder, bringing it nearly to a point at the waist, is very advantageous, as it breaks the plain expanse over the bust and at the waist.
Skirt-draperies will retain the straight narrow look. For stuff dresses, the coat appearance, opening in front over a plaited, gathered, or fancy front, is popular; while at the back the skirt falls in long lines without looping. But thinner materials need a little more draping. Some ginghams and other thin dresses, however, have the skirts simply gathered at the waist and fall straight to the hem.
Bustles, cushions, and dress-stiffeners are very much reduced in size, some women dispensing with them altogether.
The sleeves are more comfortable-looking and much more becoming then the tight tailor-made ones lately worn. These sleeves are only moderately full at the armhole and down the arm, not like the leg-of-mutton sleeve of fifty years ago. For thin dresses, they are often much fuller.
Shoulder-seams are short, on some French dresses very short, and sleeves stand full and high on the shoulders.
All dresses have a noticeably simple appearance, and are more easily made at home than formerly.
The Marie-Antoinette fichu is again popular. In France, it is the fashion, and here it will no doubt be revived by the Washington Inauguration Centennial, as the becomingness of it will be seen by all who examine Martha Washington's picture; hers is usually represented as a plain one, while the new ones have frilled borders. They are rounded at the back and cut with long tapering ends, which sometimes cross on the bust and tie at the back; in other cases, they tie on the bust, with the ends fastened down at the waist.
Sashes of wide ribbon, surah, etc., are much worn.
For party-dresses for young girls, nothing is prettier than long sprays of ivy-leaves; these are used to trim the skirt, as the fancy may dictate, the bodice, shoulders, hair, etc.
Short mantles, but having long ends in front and triple capes, are much worn.
Bonnets are quite small, low, and trimmed with a profusion of flowers; the Alsatian bow is also popular.
Hats have large brims in front, with a much narrower one at the back, and very low crowns; these are also trimmed with May-flowers; but the shapes of the hats are very varied and are often picturesque, also often very ugly and exaggerated. They are bent and twisted is such marvelous manners as to defy description; but the effect is of a cunning adjustment of lace or tulle, with a few flowers carelessly thrown among the folds. Lace hats are to be worn, and trimmings of lace on straw hats, and transparent materials generally. Ribbon, too, is employed - not so exclusively as of late, but in combination with soft millinery materials and flowers.
Our Paris Letter
Rue des Petits Champs
We are gradually getting used to the changes in the styles of ladies' dresses, and, whereas a year ago a straight-falling skirt would have looked odd and unfashionable to the last degree, the apparition of some conservative lady, who still clings to the dress-improver, is now quite as extraordinary and out of style. The backs of skirts now present merely a gentle slope, a cushion and a couple of steel hoops of moderate dimensions being all that is accorded to hold out the flat-plaited folds.
The accordeon-plaits continue to be highly popular and are certainly graceful, but they have one marked defect; they are very expensive. The summer evening-dresses for young girls are mostly in tulle with accordeon-plaited skirts and low-necked corsages in folds of the material, crossed transversely with flat folds, and finished with a sash in surah encircling the waist. No contrast of color is admitted into these very tasteful dresses, the surah sash matching the tulle. Short skirts for evening wear are wholly abandoned, except for very young girls. Long trains, however, are only worn for full ball-dress. The short demi-train is universally adopted for dinner or reception dresses, but short skirts for promenade or traveling wear still hold their own.
There is quite a revulsion from the rage for colored under-garments, and pink and blue and lilac batiste for handkerchiefs and underwear have given place to pure white, and cambric is again in vogue. There is talk of substituting white thread stockings for the colored hosiery that has so long been popular; but, as white stockings increase the apparent size of the foot and ankle, it will be some time before that innovation is adopted.
A favorite combination this season is the union of pekin and plain materials of precisely the same shade in one costume. The pekin is in narrow stripes, either in satin and faille or in watered silk and satin. It comes also in light worsted stuffs. The corsage and the straight folds of the skirt are made of the pekin, and the plaited underskirt or the soft full draperies are of the plain material. Worth has composed dresses entirely of pekin, with immense revers at either side of the skirt, formed by turning back an entire breadth in a pointed shawl-shape. The pekin thus employed is in inch-wide stripes of taffetas and satin, in contrasting colors, and the effect is very striking.
In the way of hats and bonnets, the sudden lowering of high crowns and lofty trimmings has set every lady to remodeling her last season's headgear. Everything in the way of millinery is light and aerial, or else compact and severe-looking. Full-dress bonnets are the daintiest little things imaginable, being in pale-tinted gauze or tulle, or else all in small spring flowers that completely cover the frame. Heather, forget-me-nots, and lilies of the valley are much used for these picturesque little bonnets. Then there are fine straws, trimmed with bttercups or with violets, and others in gold braid or passementerie, or in fine gold gauze. Hats in fine black straw with very wide brims, having a band of insertion in delicate black horse-hair lace let into the brim about its centre, are trimmed with black lace and flowers and black ribbons, or else with a combination of black lace and jet butterflies or dragon-flies. That last mode of trimming is very effective, bit is rather heavy for the hat itself.
The summer cloaks and wraps are very pretty, and by no means expensive. The most attractive are probably those in black lace, made to cover the toilette entirely, and having very wide falling sleeves and a lining of thin silk. Sometimes the skirt is bordered with rows of watered ribbon. The wide sleeves are left unlined. These lace cloaks really take the place of a dress. Very charming ones for watering-place wear are made in white lace, either lined with colored silk, or having the lining in white silk with pale-blue or pink ribbons put underneath the lace so as to define the bands in the pattern. For everyday wear, these long cloaks are made of black surah or of changeable satin merveilleux, and have belts of ribbon or else bands of ribbon encircling the waist, with loops and long ends falling in front. The short graceful mantelets, in black or colored silks or sicilienne, trimmed with ruffles of wide black lace, are still worn and are very popular.
Parasols are still extremely large.
Green is the color most in vogue this season, and it is shown in all varieties of shades, from the darkest bottle-green to the new faint tint called varnish-green, which is as near white as a color can possibly be. A very beautiful shade, being at once light and brilliant, is called the Nile-reed. Lake-blue, another new color, is a shade between sky-blue and electric-blue.
There is talk of reviving the old-fashioned barege, so dear to the hearts of our grandmothers. It would be a material just suited to the present cut of dresses.
Lucy H. Hooper.