Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


image preview



Date Created



Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses


Silk taffeta, cotton


1850s. Day dress of green silk taffeta with a plaid of brown, white, and black, one piece, with a front opening bodice, pagoda and cap sleeves, and a floor-length skirt evenly cartridge-pleated to the bodice.

The bodice is constructed with two front panels and one back panel, with the side and shoulder seams placed toward the back of the body, and curved tucks mimicking seams in back. These curved tucks are machine-sewn, while the rest of the garment is hand-sewn. There are two darts beneath the bust on each front panel. The bodice buttons in front with nine small buttons, seven of which remain. The neckline is high and the shoulder seam is long and dropped. The waistline is round and slightly high. A small pocket, sized for a watch, is sewn into the bodice lining at the left front, but is only accessible when the dress is unbuttoned or by reaching through the slit in the skirt and up into the bodice when worn.

The sleeves are pagoda style, three-quarter length at the top of the arm and longer in back, cut in two pieces to flare in a curve from shoulder to hem. The lining visible at the opening is the same fabric as the dress. The top of the sleeve is decorated with a short cap over-sleeve.

The skirt is floor-length, same length in front and back, cartridge pleated evenly to a narrow waistband which is sewn to the bodice. It has seven straight panels, 50.2 cm / 19.75 in. wide, sewn selvedge to selvedge.

The bodice is lined with brown cotton twill. The skirt is lined with brown polished cotton.

The fabric is woven with strong grosgrain-ribbon-like horizontal bands; these are deliberately placed on the on the bodice and cap sleeves to form the yoke-like trim effect typical for the period. The sleeve caps are a section of straight-grain fabric pleated to maintain the stripe while following the curve of the scye. The caps and hems of the sleeves are edged with a white silk trim woven with red ombre flowers and green crimped fringe. There is piping of the dress fabric at the neck, scye, and bodice waist.

The bodice has been let out at the side seams beneath the arms as though to accommodate a larger bust but not a larger waist. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Bust: 96.5 cm / 38 in.
Waist: 68.6 cm / 27 in.
Sleeve: 55.9 cm / 27 in.
Shoulder seam: 19.1 cm / 7.5 in.
Hem: 345.4 cm / 136 in.
Skirt length: 109.2 cm / 43 in.


Gift of Mrs. Charles Smart

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, Day dresses, 1850s, One-piece dresses, Silk taffeta, Green (color), Plaid (pattern), Brown (color), White (color), Black (color), Front-opening bodice, Cartridge-pleated bodice, High neckline, Tucks, Darts, Buttons, Grosgrain ribbon, Yoke-like trim, Silk trim, Flowers, Crimped fringe, Cotton twill lining, Pagoda sleeves, Cap sleeves, Watch pocket, Floor-length skirt, Polished cotton lining, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn, Smart (donor)