Silk taffeta dress, 1850s
Antique/vintage clothing often retains an impression of the original owner. This appeals to us on a subconscious level across the ages. Plaid taffeta dresses were almost a fashion uniform in the 1850s-1860s; yet this one seemed uniquely attractive to me. It has an inexplicable sweet presence.
The dress was styled to be worn as shown in the picture; or else with button-on lower sleeves. The one remaining lower sleeve will be included for study purposes.
The low, wide neckline could be worn off the shoulders—see the c.1854 ambrotype portrait of Harriet Louise Gorman. The fullness of the neckline can be adjusted with drawstring ties. The sleeves are ruched at the top and trimmed with silk fringe at the hem. The dress closes in back with hooks.
The bodice is boned and lined with ecru linen. The skirt has a small watch-size pocket on a side front seam. The skirt hem is faced with a wide border of green polished cotton and is bordered with green braid trim.
The condition is almost excellent. The underarms have a tiny amount of faint staining, which barely shows; and the hem braid is frayed.
It measures: 32" bust, 22" waist, 12 1/2" from the shoulder to the waist, and 56" from the shoulder hem.