Late Victorian Era Fashion Chit Chat - December 1883 Peterson's Magazine
Our Paris Letter
Rue Des Petits Champs,
Stamped velvet, or rather valvet-flowered satin, is highly in favor this season for handsome toilettes, either for visiting or dinner-dress. The figures are very large, and are in various styles, sometimes the pattern being in dark velvet on satin of a lighter hue, and at others the flowers or fruits are in shades of their natural tints on a pale-colored background. The patterns are very varied, the newest being oak-leaves and acorns in dark velvet on light satin, very large dahlias and chrysanthemums, in the same style, and branches of fruit, such as peaches and plums, in their natural colors, as finely shaded as a water-color, on cream-white or pale-blue satin. The new copper-red - known as volcano-color - blends admirably with the last style of material.
Worth now shows for walking-dresses a front in stamped velvet placed over the underskirt, which is in satin, the draped back of the skirt being in satin. Another of his models blends satin, ottoman-silk, and velvet, the skirt-front having an apron-overskirt of ottoman-silk caught up to the waist at one side s as to show a satin underskirt, plaited from waist to hem, and bordered with a two-inch wide band of velvet. The back of the skirt is formed of velvet draperies, and the corsage is a plain short cuirass of velvet.
Worth is employing a dark rich shade of brown very extensively, even for full-dress occasions. In satin, combined with a brilliant gold-yellow, the effect of this hue is admirable.
Cloaks of stamped velvet, in dark colors, lined with satin or plush in vivid violet or scarlet, and trimmed with bead fringes and passementerie, are very much in vogue. Almost any shape can be worn, the styles being decidedly eclectic. In the way of trimmings, heavy handsome fringes in jet beads and chenille are the most effective. Less costly, and very showy, are the wide network fringes in narrow worsted braid, hung with round balls, which are used for covering the underskirts of walking-dresses in cashmere. They are worn in hues contrasting with the underskirt itself: such as red on navy-blue, black on dove-color, or silver-gray and dark-brown on beige-color. There is a positive run on neutral-tints this season, all shades of brown and gray being especially favored - that is, so far as dresses and cloaks are concerned.
Bonnets and hats - to relieve the more sombre hues of the costumes - are frequently shown in very brilliant colors. The bonnets are still very small, but there is a slight modification in the crowns, which are sometimes seen in set flat shapes. For ornamenting bonnets in dark velvet, the head and neck of a tropical bird, in very delicate hues, are combined with the breast of another bird, also in some pale tint, and the effect is exquisite - the palest pinks, blues, and cream-tints in plumage being employed on dark brown and olive-green velvet. Scarlet-velvet roses shrouded in black lace are seen on the small capote-bonnets of a darker red. Bonnets of pale-blue or of pale-pink English crape, with fronts formed of a puff of velvet matching the crape in hue, are shown for evening-wear. The bonnet is formed of crossed scarfs of the crape at the back, meeting the puffed velvet brim.
Morning-dresses are more elegant and elaborate than ever. The richest styles are formed of Princess-cut dresses - that is, all in one - of plush or ottoman-silk, trimmed with fur, and opening over elaborate lace underskirts. Sometimes the underskirt is composed of a series of narrow lace flounces; at others, it is formed of full or transverse draperies of lace, or rather of rich silk lace-net. If the wearer has a very slender figure, a blouse-vest of the lace is admissible, confined in place by a sash of narrow satin ribbon. A less dressy morning-toilette is composed of a sacque and skirt in cashmere. The first is rather short, and is bordered by an inch-and-a-half-wide plaiting of cashmere, headed by a band of velvet of the same width. The skirt is formed of a single kilt-plaiting from waist to hem.
Fans are of medium size, except when formed of ostrich-feathers, and they may then be as large as the fancy of the owner may dictate. The Spanish fan, with gilt carved sticks, and with a narrow leaf in gold-spangled crape, is very much in vogue for opera or dinner-wear. Plainted-satin fans, with sticks of violet wood or ebony, relieved with gold, are much used for dinner-toilettes. A new and very effective style is in black crape, with the design - such as cupids, watteau-personages, etc. - painted in shades of gold, the sticks being in gilt wood or in ebony and gold. Tortoise shell mountings are less in favor this season, except for ostrich-feather fans, mother-of-pearl and ivory being more extensively employed for the more dressy styles. In some of the newer fans the leaf is so large as to take up two-thirds of the expanse, and is very beautiful, showing designs of fruit elaborately painted by hand on white or black satin.
The Jrsey has been adopted in Paris at last, and has become the rage. Silk Jerseys - such as were fashionable in England - are not seen; but in worsted, the variety is great. They are shown plain, or braided, or trimmed with heavy braid, and closed with frogs. The result of their success is that very thin and very stout women are often seen in them, with most disastrous effect. They are invariably worn with skirts to match them in hue.
Stockings embroidered with beads, either in jet or colors, are amongst the latest innovations. Sometimes the instep shows a very fantastic pattern, such as a beehive with bees hovering around it, in shades of amber and olive silk and beads, on a pale-blue silk stocking, or a lizard, in ruby, gold, and emerald beads, on a black-silk one. Jet arabesques on black-silk stockings, and similar designs in gold and amber on dark-red ones, are in better taste. A very pretty style has a fine lattice-work in jet or steel beads, on black silk, on the instep.
House-shoes are cut very low in front, and are elaborately worked with beads, the little bow on the front of the slipper being also embroidered with beads.
Lucy H. Hooper.