Tag Archives: Fashion

What Lies Beneath

3 Apr

Fashion during Isabella’s lifetime changed dramatically; but for the majority of her years, ladies’ gowns consisted of high-necked collars, long sleeves, and floor-length skirts.

An 1891 fashion plate.

For the most part, women’s clothes were modest and conservative, especially when viewed by today’s standards.

Ladies’ fashions in 1915.

But underneath the “brown alpaca” or “black bombazine” gowns she mentioned in her novels (as well as layers of petticoats, corsets, drawers, and bustles), women found ways to express themselves in—oddly enough—stockings!

Black silk stockings (about 1890 to 1910).

In those days, women’s hosiery was manufactured in different weights of silks, cottons, wools, and merinos. The most common color was black, followed by the color white.

White cotton stockings (1835 to 1875).

But some women expressed their personalities and preferences by eschewing those common colors for something bright and vibrant.

Embroidered silk stockings (1875 to 1900).

Embroidered stockings were expensive and didn’t last long, considering that stockings were easily ripped, torn, or worn through from wear. These black silk stockings, embroidered with silk and metallic threads, were luxurious and costly:

Black embroidered stockings (1875-1900).

But cost didn’t have to be a factor. These sensible cotton stockings were fun and playful . . .

Blue plaid cotton stockings (1830 to 1860).

. . . while these cotton stockings were bold and striking:

Cotton stockings (1875 to 1895).

Some designs were more complex. These lovely stockings combined geometric stripes with beautifully detailed embroidery.

Blue cotton and silk stockings (1830 to 1835).

When worn, a typical lady’s boot would have covered the lower embroidered portion of the stocking, leaving only the horizontal band and stripes visible (if she lifted her skirt).

By contrast, the embroidery on these beauties was visible from knee to toe.

Silk stockings with floral design (1875 to 1899).

Which stocking design is your favorite? Which pair would you like to wear?

All the stockings shown in this post were found on the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising website, which documents over 200 years of fashion history. You can explore the FIDM Museum website by clicking here.

National Wear A Hat Day

17 Jan

January 17 is National Wear A Hat Day. In honor of the occasion, here are sketches of lovely ladies wearing hats that were popular at the turn of the 20th Century. Now yellowed with age, these black and white drawings were often used in advertisements and on trade cards.

Isabella Alden’s first book was published in 1865 and she continued to publish fiction through the 1920s. Her stories spanned many decades and she saw fashion styles come and go throughout her long life. These stylish hats might have been worn by Isabella’s heroines in her books, Making Fate, Overruled, As In A Mirror, Four Mothers at Chautauqua and Ruth Erskine’s Son, which were all published between 1895 and 1905.

Which hat is your favorite?

Black and White Bonnet 02 Black and White Bonnet 03 Black and White Bonnet 04 Black and White Bonnet 05 Black and White Bonnet 07 Black and White Bonnet 08 Black and White Bonnet 10 Black and White Bonnet 11 Black and White Bonnet 12 Black and White Bonnet 13 Black and White Bonnet 14 Black and White Bonnet 15 Black and White Bonnet 16 Black and White Bonnet 17 Black and White Bonnet 18 Black and White Bonnet 19

Glyde’s Sack

23 Dec

In Making Fate, Uncle Anthony whisked Glyde Douglass off to New York for a whirlwind visit. As the youngest of three sisters, Glydes clothes were hand-me-downs and she had to borrow one of her sister’s sacks to wear on the trip.

Although it was clear in the book that a sack was some kind of garment, “sack” is not a fashion term most 21st Century readers recognize. For a good description of a lady’s sack, there’s no better authority than Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine, which was a popular women’s publication in the late 1800s.

According to Godey’s, a sack (or sacque) was a lady’s overcoat that was in fashion for several decades. Of varying lengths, it was usually hip length or reached to about a woman’s knees. It was sometimes styled to match a specific dress or it was made up in a neutral color so it could be worn over a variety of dresses.

The December 1853 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine featured this stylish sack:

Sack 3 Godeys December 1853 edited

Fall or winter sacque. This style of wrap is very pretty for misses.
It can be made of silk, or of any kind of cloth. It is trimmed with
a ruching of velvet, silk, or cloth, either of the same shade as the
material or darker. The latter has the more stylish appearance.
 

The June, 1863 issue of Godey’s included this drawing and description under the banner, “The Latest Style”:

Sack 2 Godeys June 1863 edited

Another pretty robe dress, with sack to match, very
suitable for traveling. This style of dress is to be had in
percales of neutral tints, and in wool goods, such
as taffetas and alpacas.
 

The May 1863 issue featured this description for a new sack design:

Sack Godeys May 1863 Detail edited

A very stylish morning costume for a watering-place. It is
made of white alpaca with one box-plaited flounce bound
with black on the edge of the skirt. Above the flounce is a 
lace-like embroidery, and three rows of black velvet. A
short sack is cut to the figure, but not fitting closely,
is worn over a white muslin waist. 
 

During their stay in New York, Uncle Anthony took Glyde on a wonderful shopping spree, purchasing many things for her, including a new sack in the latest style:

It was one of the newest styles, fine and heavy, and beautifully trimmed, yet simple enough for a girl of the most refined tastes. The quick eye of the saleswoman had caught the right size, and the garment fitted as though made to order.

“It suits me exactly,” Uncle Anthony announced, in his most complacent tone. “Your Aunt Estelle used to wear one very much like it. Go over to the mirror, little girl, and see what you think. If it pleases you as much as it does me, we will call it a bargain.”

No girl could have looked at herself in a full length mirror and caught such a reflection as Glyde did, without being pleased. Her face spoke for her.

“You like it?” said Uncle Anthony. “Glad of it. You may as well keep it on and have the other sent home. It is warmer than that; and this is a pretty cold morning.”

“But, Uncle Anthony,” she said, moving toward him and speaking low. Her appalled eyes had caught sight of the figure marked on the sleeve-card, and she did not know how to make her protest strong enough. “I truly do not need it; my sack which I have at home is warm; warmer than Estelle’s, and I do not mind its being a little old-fashioned; and indeed I cannot think that you know how very expensive this one is.”

“Yes, I do; I know exactly what it costs. You don’t suppose I am foolish enough to buy an article without finding that out the first thing, do you? I call it very reasonable for a garment gotten up in that style; it is well lined, you see, and will outlast three or four like that one you had on. The question is does it suit you as well as anything you see around here?”

“Oh, it could not be lovelier, but—”

“Then we won’t waste time over conjunctions, disjunctive ones at that. Just let the young lady wear it home, will you? And send the other to my hotel with the handkerchief, you know, and other things?”

The sympathetic saleswoman laughed; she had not had such an enjoyable customer in many a day. Her heart was in the entire enterprise. She led the way for Uncle Anthony with such promptness and success that several more bewildering purchases were made by him before he announced himself ready for luncheon.

Writer Jenny Berlin

Faith, romance, and a place to belong

The Hall in the Grove

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Isabella Alden

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Britt Reads Fiction

Reviews and giveaways for Christian fiction and sweet, clean fiction. Bringing readers information on great stories and connecting authors with their readers.

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