Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


image preview



Date Created

c. 1865


Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses




c. 1865. One-piece purple silk dress with woven silver, black, and pink vertical stripes, closing in front, with full-length curved-seam sleeves and floor-length skirt pleated evenly to the bodice.

The bodice is made of three pieces: two front panels with two flaring darts each, and a single center-back panel with curved tucks at side back. It opens in front with eleven brass domed buttons, and there is boning at the right front edge. The neck has a 2.54 cm / 1 in. high standing band collar and the waistline is round. The bodice is flat lined with brown cotton twill.

The shoulders are dropped and the sleeves are full-length, with a curved two-seam construction first introduced between 1884-1868. They are smoothly inserted into the scye with no gathers, bell toward the elbow, and narrow back down at the wrist which is finished with a black velvet cuff.

The skirt is floor-length and full, slightly longer in back than in front. It is made of nine straight 41.9 cm / 16.5 in. wide panels sewn selvedge to selvedge, and is evenly pleated to a band of twill tape which is then sewn to the bodice. A piece of white printed cotton is sewn to the raw edge of the skirt panels. The top closes with a hook and eye concealed by a velvet bow. The bottom half of the skirt is lined with polished brown cotton, the rest is unlined.

Some alterations have been made to both the bodice and the skirt, likely in the 20th century for use as costume. Black satin fabric has been added to the right front edge as a placket to allow the buttons to be moved over; scars in the silk from the original button placement are clear. Snaps have been added to the placket of the opening in the skirt front.

There is piping at the base of the collar and at the waist. Hand-sewn.


Bust: 94 cm / 37 in.
Waist: 73.7 cm / 29 in.
Sleeve: 50.8 cm / 20 in.
Shoulder seam: 18.1 cm / 7.125 in.
Hem: 377.2 cm / 148.5 in.
Length (skirt front): 103.5 cm / 40.75 in.
Length (skirt back): 106.7 cm / 42 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, c. 1865, One-piece dresses, Silk, Purple (color), Stripes, Silver (color), Black (color), Pink (color), Front-closing, Full-length sleeves, Curved-seam sleeves, Round waistline, Floor-length skirt, Brass buttons, Boning, Collar, Cotton twill lining, Brown (color), Dropped shoulders, Velvet, Cuff, Bows (costume accessories), Twill tape, Printed cotton, White (color), Hook and eye, Polished cotton, Brown (color), Alterations, Snap closure, Piping, Hand-sewn