Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses


Silk, cotton


1850s. Two-piece dress of brown silk woven with black and white vertical stripes, with a front-buttoning bodice featuring pagoda sleeves and a peplum, and with a separate floor-length cartridge-pleated skirt.

The bodice is made of five pieces: two front panels with two boned darts each and a horizontal dart at the waist, side-back panels, and a single center-back panel. Each panel is cut so it narrows to the natural waist, and then flares out again to form a peplum that drapes over the hips and full skirt. The peplum comes to 19.7 cm / 7.75 in. long points in the center front and center back. Each front panel has one horizontal dart at the waistline reaching from its second dart to the side seam to allow the fabric to drape from the narrowed waist into the wide peplum. The front panel vertical darts are placed to deliberately manipulate the prominent wide black stripe of the fabric from its full extent at the shoulder to half that width at the waist. The bodice closes in front with with nine faceted jet ball buttons from the high neck to the waist. The lining is a plain brown cotton flat-lined to the silk, and has an added-in waist stay band with six hooks and eyes, which is sewn to the vertical darts flanking the opening.

The shoulders are dropped. The flared pagoda sleeves are nearly full-length, and have front seams. The fabric is pleated into the scye in such a way that the wide woven stripes are made to look narrow, held there with top-stitching, and are then released to return to their full width as the sleeve itself widens. The hem of the sleeves is faced with the same silk as the dress.

The skirt is floor-length, cartridge pleated evenly to a narrow waistband secured with one button. It has eight straight panels sewn selvedge to selvedge, each 49.2 cm / 19.375 in. wide. It is fully lined with brown polished cotton and has brush braid at the hem.

There is piping at neck and arm scyes, and a woven black silk trim with chenille dots and brown silk fringe finishes the sleeve and bodice hems. Hand-sewn.


Bust: 88.9 cm / 35 in.
Waist: 67.3 cm / 26.5 in.
Sleeve 45.7 cm / 18 in.
Shoulder seam: 22.6 cm / 9 in.
Hem: 388.6 cm / 153 in.
Skirt length: 108 cm / 42.5 in.

Museum Number



University of New Hampshire Library


Astrida Schaeffer, photographer/curator

Date Digitized


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 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.


Dresses, 1850s, Two-piece dresses, Silk, Brown (color), Stripes, Black (color), White (color), Jet ball buttons, Front-buttoning bodice, High neck, Boned darts, Natural waistline, Peplum, Cotton lining, Waist stay band, Hooks and eyes, Piping, Woven black silk trim, Chenille dots, Fringe, Pagoda sleeves, Dropped shoulders, Floor-length skirt, Cartridge-pleated skirt, Brush braid, Hand-sewn