Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
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Afternoon dress, ca 1785 England, the Victoria & Albert Museum
In the 1770s and 1780s printed cotton fabrics began to replace silk in popularity for women’s gowns. The material of this gown has a dotted ground and is printed in a repeating pattern of floral sprays. The gown has a fitted back and open front below the waist, revealing a petticoat of the same fabric. The lack of decoration and use of cotton instead of silk indicates that this gown was probably worn during summer afternoons for card games and tea parties, rather than for evening dress.
Vogue, October 7th 1897
Just like the ladies of Downton Abbey, Charleston women chose dresses that were stylish and smart. The ones shown here depict that fashionable era.
White cotton marquisette (mesh) dress, c. 1910-15, with fabulous embroidery, lace insertion and covered buttons made and labeled by dressmaker “Mrs. DeWitt / 5 West 31st Street, New York.” It was worn by Mrs. Washington Augustus Roebling who was Cornelia Witsell Farrow (1866-1942) of Walterboro and Charleston. She married the Brooklyn Bridge engineer after his first wife died in 1903. Her first husband, Ashby Starke Farrow died in 1896.
In 1928, Cornelia returned to Charleston and bought 64 South Battery. Though she probably wore this dress before moving back here, it would have been perfect for a warm spring evening overlooking New York or Charleston harbor.
The blue dress, c.1910s, has a blue chiffon overlay, covering an amazing underdress of pink velvet with corded cutwork, beading and lace insertion. The chiffon shimmered over the dress and this technique appears to have been very popular. It added mystery and delicacy to the garment. Though we do not know who wore this beautiful dress, it came to the Museum in 1940 from Mrs. D. R. Kirk of New York City.
TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection. Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday
Tea dress, ca 1908-10 Paris
Tea dress, 1890 (probably ca 1880) France, the Met Museum
My favorite color!
Tea dress by Emile Pingat, ca 1892 Paris, National Gallery of Australia
Tea dress, late 1870’s, LACMA