Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses
c. 1898. Two-piece dress of black leaf-patterned silk over green cotton, with a pouched bodice having full-length sleeves puffed at the shoulder, and a separate floor-length gored skirt with fullness in back.
The color of this dress presents as a muted green with constantly shifting shadows of black. The effect is achieved by layering a black silk, made with plain and satin weave leaves on a leno weave ground, over a startlingly bright mint green cotton lining.
The lining forms the fitted, structural part of the bodice and is made in eight pieces: two front panels each with two boned darts and one at the right opening, and a six-piece back constructed of two back panels with a center-back seam, flanked by two narrow curved panels on each side. All seams are boned, for a total of twelve stays. The bodice comes to a slight point at the front and back and rises to the base of the neck. It closes at center front with fifteen hooks and eyes.
The cotton is flatlined to the sheer silk overlay at the side seams, shoulders, scye, and hem. The front edge of the overlay is not attached to the lining. The overlay has five pieces: two front panels knife pleated from the side front to the center to create a slightly pouched/pigeon-breast silhouette, two side panels, and one back panel pleated toward center back. The front panels have three horizontal tucks across the top of the bust, finished with lace and gathered into ruffles, and closes with six hooks from neck to waist. Above this, black silk satin pleated into a 6.4 cm / 2.5 in. high band forms the collar, which is sewn to the bodice from center back to center front on the left side and hooks to the right shoulder before closing in back with two hooks. A fall of lace is sewn to both sides of the collar in back to form the frill fashionable for the time. Pleated black silk satin also finishes the hem of the bodice in the form of a belt, which is sewn from the left front above the hip to center back where a permanent three-lobed bow is added, continuing around to the center front where it forms a slight point. It extends past the bodice opening to wrap around to the left hip, hooking closed beneath a small two-lobed bow.
The sleeves are full length, with a curved two-seam construction. They have large bifurcated puffs at the shoulder constructed with sewn folds, but beneath this they are fitted tightly to the rest of the arm. At the wrist the sleeves end in three triangular points splaying over the hand, with a lace ruffle emerging beneath them. The lining is fitted smoothly throughout the sleeves, but the overlay lies flat only on the inside of the arm. On the outside, a vertical tuck finished with lace is gathered into a frill and the fabric on either side of this is folded into large horizontal pleats.
The separate floor-length skirt has three layers of fabric, with the mint green cotton and black silk overlay flatlined to an olive-green polished cotton lining. There are seven gored panels: one at center-front and two at each side which lie smoothly at the waist, and two in back where the fullness is controlled with double inverted box pleats flanking and hiding the center-back opening. There is a 4.4 cm / 1.75 in. high black satin ribbon ruffle at the hem. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.
Bust: 76.2 cm / 30 in.
Waist: 59.7 cm / 23.5 in.
Shoulder: 10.8 cm / 4.25 in.
Sleeve: 66 cm / 26 in.
Hem: 457.2 cm / 180 in.
Length (skirt front): 107.3 cm / 42.25 in.
Length (skirt back): 109.2 cm / 43 in.
Gift of Philip Marston
University of New Hampshire Library
Astrida Schaeffer, photographer/curator
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Dresses, c. 1898, Two-piece dresses, Silk, Cotton, Silk satin, Black (color), Green (color), Mint green (color), Patterned, Leaves, Plain weave, Satin weave, Leno weave, Pouched bodice, Pigeon-breast silhouette, Boned darts, Stays, Hooks and eyes, Lace, Ruffles, Pleats, Ribbon, Bows (costume accessories), Full-length sleeves, Puffed shoulders, Floor-length skirt, Gored skirt, Polished cotton, Glazed cotton, Olive green (color), Marston (donor), Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn