A friend of my Mom's recently gave her this book to pass on to me, The Wonderful World of Ladies' Fashion: 1850-1920, edited by Joseph J. Schroeder, Jr. and published in 1971. It's a collection of fashion illustrations from a variety of catalogs and periodicals dating between the years of 1850 and 1920, and with a few from earlier periods as an introduction to how fashion has changed. Represented are magazines and journals such as Harper's Weekly, Der Bazar, Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine, Ladies' Home Journal, Pictorial Review, etc. Vivid descriptions of fabric types, and some construction details accompany each illustration, but there are also adds for beauty products, and home-making goods, fashion satires, and poetry in addition to the fashion designs. It's a fascinating read.
Here are a few samples from inside the book.
Aren't they lovely!?
So, anyway, Natalie, from A Frolic through Time, approached me the other day, and asked if I had ever thought about having a Halloween tea/party, with a Victorian/Steampunk theme. No...I hadn't thought of it...but what a BRILLIANT idea, Natalie! So, she's planning one, with my help, and we've both started to work out what our outfits will be. And like the mad women we are, we plan on having them finished before THIS Halloween, not next.
I'm using the above illustration from 1884, found in my new(old) book, as the inspiration for my Victorian/Steampunk outfit. Here's the description:
"Costume of golden brown, dahlia or plum colored repped wool. False skirt covered with a pleated skirt. Tablier draped in a shawl point, and raised very high near the hips. At the back is a small pouf coquettishly draped. Gypsy jacket. The fronts open widely, and are fastened only at the neck. They are trimmed by a small round cord forming brandebourgs. Buttons terminate each one of these. The side forms of the back are slightly extended, and fasten over the box-pleated back in the same manner. Red velvet collar, cuffs and Swiss belt."
I will be using patterns from Truly Victorian, and since this is the first time I've made anything Victorian, I will have to start from the ground up...corset, petticoat, bustle, and all. I really love the look of the early 1880's...still a bit natural form, but with some sculptural detail and texture starting to reappear.
This gown, is a bit later, from 1887, but the description of fabric is gorgeous, and I'm using the color and texture scheme of this gown for my 1884 ensemble. Here is part of the description:
"The study in grey and brown, which is given under the title of a "summer walking dress", is copied from a batiste, the skirt of which is composed of brown stripes, and cluster lines of grey, and white. The overskirt and basque are checked, in the same colors, and the full vest is of soft silk, in lines of yellow, and brown. The cuffs and collar are of nut-brown velvet. The hat of crinoline, is of grey, striped with brown, and trimmed with brown velvet, and lilacs in the natural color."
I've already ordered some of the fabric...velvet, plaids, stripes, in browns and greys...it just speaks of Fall to me. I am so excited to be trying something new...a new era, new fabrics, new construction techniques, etc. The fun part, will be getting to add quirky details and embellishments to make it Steampunk! Time will tell if I'm as successful with the 1880's as I've been with the era of the Regency.