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Dress

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1816-1821 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Muslin with decorative stitching made of gold thread

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Miss L. M. Buckle

  • Museum number:

    T.55-1934

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The combination of white muslin and puffed decoration on this dress reflects a mixture of historical influences. As with most garments of this period, we cannot pinpoint exactly where each detail comes from. They are often fanciful interpretations of past styles. By looking at portraiture and studying contemporary descriptions of fashion, however, it is possible to trace similar elements of design.

The general shape, with its raised waistline and long, white, soft clinging fabric, is loosely based on the simple tunics featured in classical art. However, this piece has a flared skirt which falls from the waist in a triangular line as opposed to the tubular silhouette of antique statues.

Four rows of muslin puffs are stitched and gathered to the bottom of the skirt. These are reminiscent of decoration on Tudor dress, where the sleeves or doublet were often slashed and the undershirt drawn through the openings to form a series of puffs. Soft bands of muslin catch the sleeves into delicate ‘bouffants’ in the style of 17th-century dress. The wearer would probably have added a ruff or frill of lace at the neck to add to the sense of romantic nostalgia.

Early in the period 1800-1900 Greek and Roman influences on dress remained strong. Long, white muslin gowns with high waists were loosely based on the simple tunics featured in classical art. Soon, however, there was a taste for greater ornamentation. So-called ‘Gothic’ styles inspired by Medieval, Tudor, Elizabethan and 17th-century costume flourished. Puffs of fabric, slashed decoration, elaborate ruffs, ‘vandyked’ borders and names such as the ‘Medici’ collar and ‘Marie’ sleeve reveal a fascination with history.

Physical description

Muslin dress decorated around the hem with puffs of fabric and on the bodice with reed smocking. Bands of muslin catch the sleeves into delicate 'bouffants'. The bodice has a plain neck and fastens behind, the front is decorated with close-set horizontal gauging worked in gold thread, the waistline is high.The skirt is medium-full, near the hem are four rows of slashes into each of which a muslin putt is let in. The sleeves are not very full but are confined by five muslin bands; edged with wool and a sixth with a button at the wrist.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)

Date

1816-1821 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Muslin with decorative stitching made of gold thread

Materials

Muslin

Techniques

Embroidering

Categories

Fashion; Clothing; Women's clothes; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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