Silk faille, bib-front dress, c.1800-1810
The ubiquitous sheer white dresses from the early 19th century give the impression that the Regency wardrobe lacked color. So it is a special to find a Regency dress in rich cranberry-red silk faille!
The crease lines in the bottom picture show the pleats on the skirt front were let out, either as an alteration to make the gown larger, or to restyle an 18th century gown. Whatever the reason, the work was done in the early 19th century.
The dress is styled with a drop-front bodice, known as bib front or apron front. The bib attaches to the dress with pins on the sides—you can see marks on the fabric where the bib was originally pinned (detail pictures).
Under the bib front is an ivory cotton underbodice that closes with ties. The dress, held for years in a private collection, is completely hand sewn. I love the ruching on the long, slender sleeves.
The condition is almost excellent. There is a small but visible threadbare spot on the front skirt. A conservationist can touch up the color to make it blend into the background. There is also underarm staining not seen when the dress is on a manikin. I can overlook a few minor issues for an exceptional period example.
It measures: 36" bust, adjustable Empire waist due to the skirt ties, 27 1/2" sleeve length, 16 1/4" shoulder seam to shoulder seam, and 50" from shoulder to hem.