Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Date Created



Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses


Silk, cotton


1853-1863. Brown silk dress, one piece, with tiered sleeves with black fringe, a padded bust open in front, and an evenly pleated floor-length skirt.

The bodice is made with three panels: two front panels with two darts each at the bust, and one back panel with curved tucks and piecing at the base of the neck. The cotton lining has three panels as well, and is pieced above the bust, possibly to add the padding currently between lining and silk layers. The bodice opens at center front from the high neck to the waist, with concealed hooks and eyes. The waist is round and at the natural level.

The shoulders are dropped. The sleeves are made in three tiers: a short cap over-sleeve, a mid-length wide sleeve with the upper arm fabric gathered to fit closely with three ruched puffs, and a lower sleeve reaching the wrist and continuing the wide hem. The sleeves are pieced to achieve their width.

The skirt is the same length in front and back, and is made of five straight panels, 64.8 cm / 25.5 in. wide, and one cut to 31.8 cm / 12.5 in. wide. There is a box pleat at center back, and radiating knife pleats all the way around to center front. The fabric is evenly distributed and sewn to the bodice.

The cotton lining is white in the bodice. The sleeves have a tan, red, white, and brown printed cotton at top, then brown cotton at mid-sleeve, and black silk at the hem. The skirt is lined in brown cotton. There is a pocket at thigh height on right side.

Piping made from the dress fabric is at the waist, shoulders, and above the sleeve ruching. Each tier of the sleeves is finished with black silk fringe. Hand-sewn.


Bust: 85.1 cm / 33.5 in.
Waist: 63.5 cm / 25 in.
Sleeve: 55.9 cm / 22 in.
Shoulder seam: 21.6 cm / 8.5 in.
Hem: 345.4 cm / 136 in.
Length of skirt: 100.3 cm / 39.5 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, 1853-1863, One-piece dresses, Silk, Brown (color), Tiered sleeves, Dropped sleeves, Silk fringe, Black (color), Darts, Tucks, Hooks and eyes, Ruching, Pleated skirt, Floor-length skirt, Natural waistline, Box pleats, Knife pleats, Cotton lining, Printed cotton, Pocket, Piping, Hand-sewn