Friday, January 29, 2016

One Shot: Wannamaker's Dressing Gown 1897

    To go along with the post I did yesterday, I decided to expand on one piece I showed you. A dressing gown from 1897 was made up and sold by the Wannamaker's Department store of Philadelphia, New York and Paris.
    This was the sort of garment that a lady could go into a store and buy.  Take a good look at the quality of this piece.  This is something a lady of middle class means would have worn in her boudoir, while having her hair dressed by her maid, or she could have worn this to the breakfast table with the family.  Such a garment would not have been considered correct for receiving guests, however.
    The main body of the gown is a lightweight peach colored wool twill weave fabric.  The shape of it conforms to the fashion of the day, with the trumpet shaped skirt, and broadened shoulder line.  The pleats from the back were a fairly short lived fashion novelty that was a nod to the robe a la Francaise style of the 1700s. A number of garments exist from this same year that use this detail.
    Since the gown would mostly be worn while seated, either at a dressing table or a dining table, almost all of the decoration has been placed above the waist.  The entire bodice front is covered with rows of densely knife pleated wool twill that has been further trimmed with a ruffled edge at top and bottom. The ribbon is a white silk ribbon with a black picot edge that gives a nice, but subtle jolt to the whole thing.
Topping off the gown is a piece of hand worked cotton Reticella lace in a beige tone.  That single addition probably boosted the cost of this gown considerably.  This particular sort of lace was not able to be made by machine as some other styles were.
    After finishing her breakfast in this charming gown, (and by the way she was probably already in her corset for the day), it was back upstairs to finish being dressed.  A day dress of some sort, suitable for being around the home, dealing with wifely tasks.  Or, perhaps she would dress in a visiting costume if she had errands in town, and would be doing her rounds of visits afterwards.
    What that means is that milady would spend perhaps 2 hours wearing this, no more, before she had to change clothes, which she might do 3 more times if she was attending the theater in the evening.  Options included day dress, visiting dress, afternoon dress, tea gown, dinner dress, evening or ball dress.  A middle class to upper class woman spent a good portion of her day getting into different clothes.  It is fortunate that things have changed so much.

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