Allen, New York
Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses
Silk satin, silk chiffon, lace, silk taffeta, silk organza, silk bobbinet
c. 1905. Cream silk satin two-piece wedding dress with bodice closing in front, having full-length two-part sleeves of satin and ruched chiffon, wide lapels or revers, handmade lace and a bloused or pouched front, and with a floor-length pleat-trimmed gored skirt with a long train.
The bloused or pouched silhouette of the bodice is created by a draped outer layer pleated over a structural lining. The lining is made of cream silk taffeta and has eight pieces: two center-front panels with two darts each and a center opening with eleven hooks, and a six-piece back with a center-back seam. All darts, seams, and openings are boned, for a total of thirteen bones, and a stiff bobbinet is pleated above the bust to the inside of the lining to add volume. A ruffle of silk organza is added to the exterior of the lining, sandwiched between it and the satin, to add further support to the pouched shape at the bust. The outer, draped layer is made of cream silk satin and has three pieces: two front panels and one back panel. Both front panels are pleated from the shoulder seams with folds falling diagonally toward the center of the waist to create a jacket-like effect. The right front panel is wider than the left and crosses over the center of the bodice to close with six hooks, tucking its far edge beneath the “jacket edge” made by the left panel’s folds. The area of the right panel over the center is covered by a handmade bobbin lace panel. At the waist, the diagonal pleats release fabric to create a bloused or pouched silhouette. The center-back panel covers the entire back and is fitted by a double-stacked box pleat at center, 13 cm / 5.125 in. wide at the top and narrowing to 5.1 cm / 2 in. at the waist. The waistline is naturally curved in back and comes to a slight point in front, and is finished with a narrow, pleated sash, which has a small knot of the fabric at the bodice point.
The bodice neckline is curved in back and scooped low in front, and is filled in with a ruched cream silk chiffon edged with a trimmed silk bobbinet that together form a high V-shape line with its point framing the base of the throat. More bobbin lace is applied to the chiffon in front. Four curved and stiffened silk satin panels are added along the seam of the chiffon to the satin neckline, arching over the shoulders and around the back, resembling the wide lapels or revers of a notched collar. In front, these are covered with both bobbin and needle laces, while in back the two pieces of the “collar” are edged with a narrow chiffon pleated ruffle. Narrow silk satin sleeves emerge from beneath the revers, each made with slightly puffed sleeve heads and two curved seams. They end at the elbow with a double band of bias trim of the same fabric, and have lower sleeves of ruched cream silk chiffon sewn on to reach the wrist. These have cuffs matching those at the elbow.
The skirt is floor length in front with a long train in back, made from six gored pieces: one center front panel, two side-front panels, two side-back panels, and one pleated center-back panel. The front panel is framed by vertical box pleats from waist to hem which hide the seams to the side-front panels. The side-front panels each have two more box pleats running their length, with the third pleat hiding the seams at the sides of the dress with the side-back panels. The side-back panels have diagonal hems that lengthen into the train, which is about 68.6 cm / 27 in. longer than the rest of the skirt. The right side-back panel is fully sewn to the center-back panel, while the left side-back panel leaves a 30.5 cm / 12 in. long opening at the top of its seam, closed with two hooks. The center-back panel is 22.9 cm / 9 in. wide at the top, folded down to 6.4 cm / 2.5 in. with a double-stacked box pleat. This pleat spreads as it travels down the length of the dress and into the train, where in its fully folded form it is 40.6 m / 16 in. wide, measuring 71.1 cm / 28 in. when the panel is stretched out. The skirt is trimmed with a narrow ruched trim made from the same cream satin as the dress. It has a full lining of silk taffeta which is sewn in at the waistband but is free at the hem, which has a reinforcing trim of accordion-pleated silk taffeta; the lining is now badly shattered. Professionally made by Allen, New York. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.
Bust: 87.6 cm / 34.5 in.
Waist: 68.6 cm / 27 in.
Shoulder: 2.54 cm / 1 in.
Sleeve: 66 cm / 26 in.
Hem: 635 cm / 250 in.
Length (skirt front): 109.2 cm / 43 in.
Length (skirt back): 177.8 cm / 70 in.
University of New Hampshire Library
Astrida Schaeffer, photographer/curator
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
Dresses, Wedding dresses, c. 1905, New York, United States, Two-piece dresses, Belle Époque, Silk satin, Cream (color), Bobbin lace, Needle lace, Lapels, Revers, Front-closing bodice, Full-length sleeves, Silk chiffon, Ruching, Handmade lace, Bloused front, Pouched front, Curved-seam sleeves, Pleat trimming, Bias trim, Gores, Trains (costume components), Silk taffeta, Darts, Hooks, Bobbinet, Silk organza, Ruffles, Double-stacked box pleats, Box pleats, Accordion pleats, Sash, Cuffs, Professionally made, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn