Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Costume; Clothing; Outerwear; Capes


Silk faille, plain weave silk, silk gauze, jet beads, grosgrain ribbon


1890s. Cape of black silk faille with jet bead embroidery, with a standing collar frilled with accordion-pleated silk gauze and a multi-lobed bow of grosgrain ribbon in back.

This outerwear garment is cut as two large semi-circles of silk faille draped from the cross-grain at center back to almost on-grain at the front. Shoulder darts help keep the cape in place and shape the drape. An inverted pleat with a jet-embroidered 29.2 cm / 11.5 in. wide cross-grain panel at its center is framed by two stepped pleats on either side. These are top-stitched just below the collar before the fabric is allowed to fall open to the hem. The front of the cape closes with 6 hooks and eyes and has two 7.6 cm / 3 in. wide four-lobed grosgrain ribbon bows at base of the collar, with streamers 61 cm / 24 in. long. The collar itself is 2.54 cm / 1 in. high in the front, rising to 7.6 cm / 3 in. high in the back with four standing tabs which curve away from the neck, embroidered on both sides with jet curlicues and embellished on the outside with double frills of accordion-pleated silk gauze to frame the face further. At the base of the collar in back, more grosgrain ribbon is sculpted into a complex bow. The entire cape is embroidered with traceries and curlicues of tiny jet beads.

The cape is fully lined in a plain weave black silk. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Hem: 379.7 cm / 149.5 in.
Shoulder darts: 11.4 cm / 4.5 in.
Length (front): 64.1 cm / 25.25 in.
Length (back): 66.7 cm / 26.25 in.


Gift of Theodate Bates. Likely worn by her mother, Leonora Haines Bates.

Museum Number



University of New Hampshire Library


Astrida Schaeffer, photographer/curator

Date Digitized


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


The Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection digital catalog was produced by the UNH Library Digital Collection Initiative, supported in part by a grant from the Mooseplate program and New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Additional funding provided by the E. Ruth Buxton Stephenson Memorial Fund.
Photography copyright, Astrida Schaeffer.


Women's outerwear, Capes, 1890s, Somersworth, New Hampshire, United States, Silk faille, Black (color), Jet beads, Embroidery, Standing collar, Collar frill, Accordion pleats, Silk gauze, Bows (costume accessories), Grosgrain ribbon, Darts, Hooks and eyes, Plain weave silk lining, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn, Bates (donor)


item origin