Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
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A “Fashion Gossip” column describing cutting edge Philadelphia fashions, Winter 1885-86 US (Philadelphia), Strawbridge and Clothier’s Quarterly
THE WINTER season is invariably the time when fashion reaches the very summit of splendor. The other seasons have each their characteristics. Spring and summer styles are cool and dainty; those for autumn show more elaboration; but the cunning Dame Fashion has a way of treasuring-up her richest and choicest fancies, and bringing them out when they vie with nature’s glistening mantle of snow.
As usual, this season’s extremes rule. The most popular street-dress is severely plain; the accepted ball-costume is as elegant as massive silk and costly lace can make it. In walking costumes the English cut reigns supreme.
Plaid and checked cloths are the materials most used in conjunction with plain cloth. Indeed, in some of the newest suits the three patterns of striped, checked, and plain, all shading to the one color, are combined. The round, short skirt is of the plain goods, finished with a fine pleating of the striped; while the checked material forms the drapery. The latter continues to be festooned very high and full in the back.
When the weather is sufficiently mild, short capes, reaching just below the waist, are worn with these English, or tailor-made, costumes. A stylish model for these capes is a series of three, one laid over the other, alternating in length; finished simply with several rows of stitching. They are made of plaid or plain self-colored cloth, matching the rest of the suit. These short capes are also repeated in plain or beaded lace for theatre and opera wear, and are very dressy additions to the toilette. The English toque, the small, turban-shaped hat, made of cloth, is usually chosen to be worn with these walking-suits.
The Coquette Mantle, an entirely new model, is a modified description of the shoulder-cape, and is illustrated at the heading of this article. It is made of heavy black Sicilienne, richly trimmed with cut-jet passementerie. The shoulders are very high, and the seams below are fitted into the arms, ending just above the elbow, where a drooping jet ornament falls over the arm. The garment is cut very narrow at the waist, back and front. Two long, double loops depend in front, and the back pieces are caught-up in high poufs, fastened with a handsome jet ornament; the two points are likewise finished with drooping ornaments. A high, straight collar is beaded to match. The bonnet, of Sicilienne silk, is full-pleated at the back of the crown, and is gathered in front. A large cluster of variegated leaves is placed in front; and gros-grain ribbon-strings are used.
For everyday-wear the walking-jacket most in vogue in the regular cut-away. The material is invariably cloth, of good quality; in color it may either be the sombre shades of black or brown, or the gay shades of cardinal or very deep yellow, or subdued or bright. These jackets are worn over skirts of black or brown silk or cloth, and are conceded to impart an air of distinction to the costume. Many ladies, however, prefer having their skirts and jackets subdued in color and giving their gayer taste full vent in their bonnets and gloves. The seal-skin jacket remains undisturbed in its popularity — and why? They have much to commend them; they seem to have a magic charm; they are delightfully cosy on a frosty day; and they are rarely uncomfortably warm on a mild day.
At Figure No. 2, is shown a waist that is suitable both for home-wear and for the street, when the weather permits. It is made of seal-brown Ottoman silk; the vest-front is of chantilly lace; the same forms deep pleats. The Ottoman silk is folded in revers down the front; and is buttoned over to simulate a plastron-vest. The silk is pleated fan-shaped in the back. The high hat is formed of alternate layers of seal-brown and gilt-braid. On the top there is a tuft of ostrich-tips; brown and gold intermixed with loops of satin ribbon, the same shades. The velvet collar, about the throat is fastened with a chain of Etruscan gold.
The poet sings of the spring-tide of marriage; but the modern fashionable season for marriage we all now concede to be the fall and the early winter months. The… (continued in the next post)