Late Victorian Era Fashion Chit Chat - December 1883 Peterson's Magazine
All shades of gray are exceedingly popular; but care should be taken to select a warm tone, as the colder ones are so often unbecoming. But our readers have a large range of colors to select from, as browns, greens, and dark-reds are all sought after. In fact, the fancy can always decide the color, and the wearer can be sure to be in the fashion. Two, and even three, materials are much used in making up a dress - silk and velvet, or brocaded satin, or camel's hair, or any of the numerous rich goods which are now so plentiful, can be employed in the making-up of the new winter-dresses. Both materials may be plain, or one plain and the other figured; in this way, two, or even three, old dresses may be made up to look like a new one of the latest style.
Skirts are still close-clinging in front, but are growing more and more bouffant at the back. Of course, all waists and basques must be cut with sufficient "spring" to allow for the extra fullness at the back.
The mode of making the waists is as varied as possible: long or rather shorter bodices, plain or much-trimmed. Those closed to the throat, or open at the neck, are all equally fashionable, only care must be taken that the open bodice, or the much-trimmed one, is not worn at inappropriate times. For persons whose wardrobe affords but few dresses, the less pronounced and marked ones are in better taste, as the date of a very much trimmed dress is apt to be remembered.
Sleeves are still put in high, and rather full at the shoulders; and the extremely tight sleeves, making the arms look like sticks, are no longer the fashion, though great pains is taken to have this important part of the dress fit well.
Black dresses can be varied in appearance by putting on a gathered jabot of colored silk or satin, with a band of the same round the neck, and a black waistband. A kind of Norfolk jacket is a good deal worn as a dress-bodice, with three plaits back and front, or else with gaugings at the neck and waist. These bodices are cut straight round the jacket, and only extend about six or seven inches below the outside waistband. They are very suitable for slim figures.
Wraps are of all shapes, and in the more dressy kinds are frequently made of two materials; the long square-sleeved Russian cloak is much liked, as it is so comfortable; the tighter-fitting coat or jacket is jaunty-looking, but has the disadvantage of not being easily removed in the house or at church. Lace, chenille - or other kinds of fringe - and fur, are all used. Many of the expensive new cloaks are lined with gay silk or satin; sometimes brocaded silk is employed.
Bonnets are generally small, though larger ones are seen; the crowns are made ample, and often square, to fit the hair, which is now usually worn high on the head.
In hats, the Henri Trois is the leading shape, with its high stiff crown and straight brim. The crowns here are also important, being large enough to take in the coil of hair which the Parisians now set on the top of their heads, having repudiated the classic Greek knot in the nape of the neck.
Felt hats are trimmed with lustreless cloth of light quality, with velvet of short pile, and with terry velvet. The ribbons used are mostly reversible - plain velvet on one side, and repped velvet on the other; then there is the new Astrakan ribbon, woven in loops or tufts.
Gray is likely to be the leading color in millinery, and the newest bonnet-trimmings are steel net and steel lace, woven of metallic threads, but very fine and filmy-looking. Escurial lace and heavy ficello lace are much used, so are large beads - principally jet or tortoise-shell - in eccentric shapes - pear-shaped, spiked, and oblong.
Dark-red velvet, trimmed with black lace, or having a network of black chenille over it, is also a style that is much liked to brighten up black or other dark costumes. Bonnets partly made of the material of the dress are also popular. Strings are often made of a reversible material - such as velvet on one side, and satin on the other. Silver and gold braids are frequently employed for the whole hat, and at other times trim velver and satin for more dressy wear. Feathers, wings, and whole birds are much used for hats and bonnets.