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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1879 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Satin, trimmed with applied beading, chenille tassels, needle lace, lined with cotton, whaleboned

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs A. Nicholls

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

According to the donor, this dress was worn by her mother on her wedding day in 1879. It could have been her 'going away' ensemble, or it could have been the dress she wore for the actual ceremony. Because weddings in those days took place in the morning, daywear with long sleeves and high necks was the acceptable style. For her wedding a woman often selected a coloured dress that would serve as a 'best dress' for years to come. By 1880 the skirt was quite slender in profile, often with an overskirt swathed in front, gathered over the bustle at the back and falling into a train. The horizontal bands of applied frills and ruching on the skirt are typical decoration for this period. The bodice is tight-fitting and designed to suggest a jacket.

Physical description

Satin dress trimmed with applied beading. High round neck. The dress fastens at the back from the narrow band collar to the hips with silver-plated buttons in a Florentine design. The tight, three-quarter sleeves are entirely gauged, trimmed at the cuffs with two rows of pleated bands. The front is fitted to the figure as far as the hips, and is designed to suggest a jacket. It is trimmed round the edges with motifs in iridescent beads and worn over a pleated and ruched stomacher front with a mock lacing. At the hips, it is draped back into paniers which knot over the train. The skirt is ruched as far as the knees where it is arranged in pleated tabs with pendant chenille tassels mounted over crenelated tabs and bands of pleats. The sleeves and the bodice, which is boned, are lined with white glazed cotton, and the skirt with mauve polished cotton. The back breadth is lined with stiffened cotton and held in place with tapes. Machine and hand sewn.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1879 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Satin, trimmed with applied beading, chenille tassels, needle lace, lined with cotton, whaleboned

Object history note

This dress is associated with the marriage of the donor's mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Smith (1849-1947), at St John's Church, Clapham, in 1879. It was purchased from an establishment on London's Bond Street.

Descriptive line

Satin dress, England, 1879


Women's clothes; Ceremonial objects; Marriage; Textiles; Lace; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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