Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Date Created

c. 1892


Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses


Silk velvet silk, cotton, passementerie


c. 1892. Two-part blue velvet dress, having a bodice with leg-of-mutton sleeves and faux lapels flanking a front-closing panel of blue voided velvet on a red ground, and a floor-length columnar skirt decorated with long pointed panels of voided velvet and grape cluster passementerie.

The bodice is made of eight pieces which extend past the long waist into a short peplum: two front panels with two darts each, then panels at the side, side-back, and back which flank a center-back seam. All seams and darts have boning extending into the short peplum, eleven pieces of boning in all. The peplum comes to 12.7 cm / 5 in. long points in front, shortens to 6.4 cm / 2.5 in. over the hips, and widens to 9.5 cm / 3.75 in. at the seam to the center-back panels, which extend into tails 15.9 cm / 6.25 in. long and 3.8 cm / 1.5 in. wide. The bodice opens in front with seventeen concealed hooks and rings, then with eleven decorative blue-red cord loops over red silk-wrapped ball buttons covered with blue silk crochet. This front panel is made with a blue velvet voided with an intricate pattern in vertical bands to reveal its red ground; the fabric is carefully positioned so that the darts creating the torso’s curved shape are hidden along the edges of the voided bands. Faux lapels hang free from their seams at the shoulder and side, 10.8 cm / 4.25 in. wide at the bottom, cut to frame the more elaborate center. They have dark red silk facings just wide enough to hide their full cotton lining when glimpsed from outside, and the voided velvet fabric panel beneath extends just past edges of the lapels before being sewn to the lining of the bodice structure. The bodice has a stiff collar, 5.7 cm / 2.25 in. high, and is flat lined with white twill silk, except for the side panels which are plain tan cotton. The edges of the lapels and collar have the blue-red cord of the button loops whip-stitched to them.

The shoulder seams are cut quite short with the scye high on the shoulder, and the sleeves have a typical early 1890s leg-of-mutton or gigot shape, tightly gathered to the scye and very full in the upper arm before narrowing to a tight fit from elbow to wrist. The blue-red cord is whip-stitched to the hem of the sleeves.

The skirt has the effect of multiple layers but with just one waistband. A six-gored foundation skirt of blue silk is smooth-fitting in front and pleated at the hips and back, and is slightly longer in back than in front. Over this, four panels of the voided velvet hang from the waist to nearly the floor, free-floating except for a few tacking stitches to keep them from flopping over and with dark red silk facings just wide enough to cover the inside edges. The panels are wide enough to show three of the voided pattern bands each, and at the bottom of each band is a grape-like cluster of silk-wrapped and crocheted balls in graduating sizes, left free to dangle. The two front panels are sewn together but have the same decorative buttons and loops as the bodice. Beneath the panels, more blue velvet is sewn to the foundation layer in flat panels and box pleats to make it appear that there is an entire underskirt of velvet. In back, a 96.5 cm / 38 in. wide panel of floor-length blue velvet, partially sewn in at its sides, is cartridge pleated to a short band and hooks to the waistband to cover the center-back opening of the foundation skirt and provide fullness. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Bust: 81.3 cm / 32 in.
Waist: 57.2 cm / 22.5 in.
Shoulder: 8.9 cm / 3.5 in.
Sleeve: 65.4 cm / 25.75 in.
Hem: 200.7 cm / 79 in.
Length (skirt front): 101.6 cm / 40 in.
Length (skirt back): 110.5 cm / 43.5 in.

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.

Frugal_Fashion_in_the_19th_Century.pdf (1588 kB)
Frugal Fashion in the 19th Century


Dresses, c. 1892, Two-part dresses, Velvet, Blue (color), Gigot sleeves, Leg-of-mutton sleeves, Faux lapels, Front-closing, Voided velvet, Red (color), Peplum, Darts, Boning, Hooks and rings, Blue-red cord, Silk-wrapped ball buttons, Silk crochet, Silk facings, Dark red, Cotton lining, Stiff collar, Twill silk lining, White (color), Tan (color), Floor-length skirt, Columnar skirt, Waistband, Gores, Silk, Pleats, Passementerie, Grape-like clusters, Silk-wrapped balls, Crocheted balls, Cartridge pleats, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn