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Original Gowns

Comments by Kay Inverarity

2) This late 1860s gown features a free-flowing back panel (known as a   Watteau Back) and a square neckline both these features were popular a hundred years earlier in the 18th century. Coat sleeves decorated with pleated tabs and surmounted by a short jockey sleeve or decorative banding were a common feature between 1867-1869. The neck-line is filled in with a light coloured tucker and she wears a long watch chain.



  1. A young girl, wearing a gown from about 1900. The fashionable features include a soft fronted over bodice which pouches over the belt, sleeves which are tight at the top and full at the wrist, and decorative bands on the bottom third of the skirt to accentuate the flared hem. She is about 16 years old because her dress does not yet reach the ground.





 4.       This woman wears a gown from the mid 1880s, it consists of a polonaise with a ruched front panel worn over a tiered skirt. There appears to be a hard line just below the knee, which may indicate that she is wearing a crinolette with an incorporated bustle to support her gown. The Hairstyle is typical of the 1880s. The use of rustic settings became very popular at this time. The opera, The Mikado produced in 1885, helped to popularise all things Japanese, hence the oriental parasol.


5.    This young girl wears a dress from about 1896. At this time the sleeve fullness was decreasing and shrinking upwards towards the shoulder. Her velvet collar tabs, cuffs and Swiss belt maintain some of the structured masculine look of the earlier 1890s, yet the front of the bodice falls softly over her belt. This is a hint of the softer more fluid fashions to come.


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Editors Note.

Early Photographs can be very deceptive and some deductions made from them can be incorrect. For example the colour yellow will very likely be rendered as black and gowns with this colour in them will likely appear dark or black, for the same reason there are few early photographs showing people with blond hair.