Fashion Notes, 1885


The following hints on updating last year's fashion and accounts of current fads both "at home and abroad" have been taken from Godey's Lady's Book Fabruary 1885.


Can there be in the world a more sorrowful spectacle than last year's dress? Sometimes the brilliant colors are gone, and it looks dull and ugly; entirely unfit, we think, at the first glance, for even ordinary wear; but we had calculated that it should answer for this season, and second thoughts lead us to decide how we can best make it look as good, if not better, than new. We will first examine the skirt of our dress and see what it needs. Did we say "what it needs"? At first glance it looks as if everything was needed, but by systematizing the needs, we will find that our task is not as herculean as a first glance leads us to imagine. The edge of the skirt is frayed, worn and faded, and having no goods of the same kind, we must use something else to freshen it up; cut off the defaced part and finish around the edge; then put a narrow ruffle of contrasting color around so that it falls under the dress proper. If the drapery is scant or oldfashioned, use some of the same material to mix in with it, or, better still, put plaited panels down the sides of it , and drape the skirt more bouffante than it was; this will make the dress look entirely different from last season. If the material can be turned (having the same surface on both sides) it will repay to carefully rip up and make over with the different material as we have suggested.

But though the fashions have changed since last season, there have certain modes come in which are distinctly favorable to economy. The first of these is the wearing of bodices of a different color from the skirt. This is always a help to those who have to repair the ravages of time. Skirts nearly always wear better than a bodice; but frequently they are too tight, and so become unserviceable. But if the skirt is good, a Jersey waist can be used; for the house and for evening wear nothing can be prettier than a bodice of deep crimson or blue surah, cut pointed in front, and either rounded in the back or cut in tails, or else cut out all the way round in tiny tabs. Velveteen or velvet can also be used for a bodice. Supposing that we desire to use the old bodice again; one must see what can be done with it. If the buttons and button-holes look shabby, a gay-colored handkerchief thrust into the breast serves to cover a multitude of sins, or a thick frill of lace sewn around the neck and continued down the front of the bodice, as far as the waist, is another excellent means of freshening a toilette. Better still is a movable waistcoat, fastening on with a few hooks, so as to be taken on and off at pleasure. It must be nicely shaped, and made of silk or velvet.

The little trimmings of a dress make such a difference. Folds of lace, crepe lisse, or illusions being put in at neck and wrist will make amends for a somewhat indifferent dress; these folds are double and are more fashionable than ruches, although not as becoming. Lace turned down at the neck, and turned up round the sleeves hides just that part which looks shabby soonest. When lace is put around the neck it is put on much fuller than formerly, and not so stiff, it is gobbled on to the dress in careless folds, and a bunch of natural flowers tucked in at one side.

A girl with quick eyes finds many opportunities of noticing styles when she goes out; she will take in the different styles of dress at a glance, and choose what is best to follow.

Natural flowers are the greatest embellishment to an evening gown, and there is excuse for being without them in summer or winter, if a few plants will be kept and cared for. Let every girl who goes in for button-hole bouquets keep a little reel of wire, and a nice, useful fern or two to pick from; the commonest flowers look well when made up with ferns, and as she gets used to making bouquets, her taste will develop, and her fingers grow defter, so that her bouquets will look like professional work.

People will tell you that doing up old toliettes is sorry work, as they rarely repay you for the time and trouble spent upon them; but if the dress is to be worn at all, it is worth while to make it look as well as it can, and we flatter ourselves that when some of these simple expedients have been tried, no one would recognize last year's dress.

Just after the holidays the thrifty home mother usually devotes herself to the construction of the family underwear, and such outside garments as it is safe to prepare before the in coming of late spring and summer styles; and while sewing machines have, in a measure, served to expedite the family sewing, they have, as well, created a taste for more lavish decorations than were used when all needle-work was done by hand, and almost every family physician can testify to the ill effects of running the machine. Hence, ladies cannot fall to recognize the health and labor-saving advantages vouchsafed to them in the white goods, specially pre pared by steam-worked machines, to take the place in the decorative parts of garments, which have been heretofore formed by the maker of each article, such as yokes and sleeves, panels and finishings of dresses and aprons for ladies, misses, and children; fronts of night-gowns, collars and cuffs, chemise bosoms, under-waists or corset covers, dressing saques, and the lower portions of drawers, indeed everything that can be made of tucked goods, or rows of Hamburg or lace Insertion, let in between clusters of tucks, or the rolled and whipped-over puffs, which come apart very easily if the thread is at all defective.

Another feature to be noted in these recent introductions is, that they are made ornamental either all over, or on and of the same materials of which the various parts of the garment can be formed, be it lawn, mull, cambric, nainsook or long-cloth; the tucking being the entire length of the piece of white goods, while the rows of woven Insertion in various lace effects, alternate with the clusters of tucks, and as parts or entire garments can be cut from the silk and oriental lace net, which is in full net width, and is sold by the yard, so these white laundrying materials are to be used; the varieties of puffing, all-over and lace tuckings in countless numbers of qualities and designs, costing less than one can buy the fabric, with necessary Hamburg or lace for insertion, not including the work of tucking and sewing In the rows of trimming, with the extra advantage of having all parts of the garment wear alike, being made of one kind and grade of material. Chemises are less full than they used to be; they are not gauged into the neck-band, but are semi fitting ; nevertheless, the prettiest models are gauged in front at the neck, and again at the waist, or rather just above the waist. The narrow pointed gores are no longer let into the sides, as it has been found by experience that extra fullness is inconvenient; the only two seams are the lightly curved side scams, although frequently there is a seam in the middle of the back to shape the chemise. With the cooler weather silk underclothing has by many been again resorted to.

Many fashionable trousseaux have lately been made of pale colored or white surah, and of printed foulard, edged with an Insertion and flounce of lace in place of a hem. The neck is open in a point back and front, and is trimmed with a drapery of white lace, secured here and there by a blue or pink satin bow.

Nothing could be simpler, nor mere absolutely unadorned than the foot covering par excellence of to-day. No fancy work, embroidery, stitching, beading, or even irrelevant fancy buttons are visible. The boot is ornamental only in its quality, which is of kid, the finest and softest. The toe portion is roomy yet shapely. The heel, with not a suggestion of the "French bend" about it , is yet graceful, and the sole of the foot is broad enough to allow of promenading without having to stop every few moments to give a rest to the pinched and rebellious feet.

In winter cloaks size and shape seem more important than costliness of material in order to be pronounced elegant. A long mantle, however handsome, is not accounted dressy for a young married lady unless it is short and well fitted to the figure, at least at the back. It is trimmed with a profusion of lace, fancy galoons, passementerie of all styles, besides embroidery patterns of the most elegant and elaborate kind. The shorter garments are considered very stylish and are really more appropriate for full dress wear than the very long wraps which so completely hide the rich toilette beneath. The short mantle is often exchanged for the jacket, which forms the bodice of the dress. Some of these jackets are short or semi-long, opening ever a vest, and showing more or less of it . The fronts are simply bound, like these of a gentleman's waistcoat, or else they are edged round with stitching; some have buttonholes on both sides, with two rows of buttons. Cloth or thick hairy vigogne, in dark blue or any shade of gray, are the materials most employed for these jackets.

But the fashion of such jacket-bodices does not in any way exclude that of a variety of dress bodices, some with a deep point in front, and cut princess fashion at the back, or else with a round waist; or again, with a waist band in front only, and a postillion-basque behind. In that case the waistband comes from the seams under the arms, and is fastened in front with a buckle, a clasp, or one, two, or three artistic buttons.

Thick woolen material, such as vigogne, serge, cloth, and limousine, are not suited for making up elaborate and complicated draperies. With such goods the best way is to make a round tunic, drawn up high on one side. Its plaits are fastened down under a large hew of velvet, if the trimming of the dress admits of velvet, or by a simple metal buckle if the costume has no trimming. In any case, the skirt of such a costume Is little or not at all trimmed; at most two or three rows of galoon, or of velvet ribbon are placed round the foot, and very often only one row of very wide mohair galoon, embroidered with wool-silk. Large collars and cuffs of bend work are a new and favored ornament for bodices.

Snake-skin collars and cuffs are worn with cloth suits.
Crimson dresses for evening wear are prettily covered with black or white lace.
Watteau trains of lace are worn en evening costumes of satin and brocade.
Round velvet caps and bonnets of the color of the dress are fashionable for street wear.
"Honiton point" is the name of a new imitation lace in which the design is outlined by silk.
The rarest and most expensive stockings are these of fine Brussels lace.
Marabout feather bands are used to decorate dresses and mantles.
People who have an ever abundance of color should adopt gray with a rosy blonde, it is a success.
Many of the corded trimming ribbons have the cord running lengthwise. Some have the cord cut here and there.
Tufts of ostrich feathers decorate the skirts and draperies of many elaborate evening dresses.
Fanciful muffs, made of black frisé, are gathered at both ends and lined with crimson or old gold satin.
Lace is used to excess in millinery, and even in mid-winter forms the entire bonnet; the trimming being feathers and bands of fur.


The season for evening parties, receptions, and fancy dress balls is now at its height, and I thought, as the latter are especially fashionable this year, that year readers might like some hints about them. A new departure has recently been taken, in so much that the hostess frequently limits her guests to one set of characters, such as these in Dickens's works, or Sir Walter Scott's, or Shakespeare's, or gives them seine special period from which their costume must be chosen. Sometimes all must appear as court ladies of various reigns. Again, all are desired to array themselves as flower girls of different countries. Or, perhaps, the edict may go forth that only strictly pastoral dresses are to be worn. At first sight it might seem that this limitation would result in a certain monotony, but when we reflect that the shepherds' and shepherdesses' and peasants' dresses of all ages and dimes are available for choice, this fear will be at once dispelled. Among them will be found costumes suitable for the short, the tall, the thin, the stout, the brunette, and the blonde. Beginning, then, with a dress from a very early period, we would suggest a Greek shepherdess's dress for a pretty, fair gin. it consists of a full, white skirt, just coming below the knees, trimmed with a blue border of the Greek key pattern ; a full, low bodice with short sleeves, edged with a like blue pattern a blue ribbon girdle, white stockings, and blue shoes, laced across and rather high. A wreath of wild flowers round the head; some should also hang loosely from one shoulder across the bosom, and a creek with wild flowers should be carried in the hand. Either low neck and short sleeves, or an under-bodice high and long sleeved can be worn. But we must not devote all our letter to fancy costumes; we reserve seine hints for general evening dresses.

Young married ladies and young ladies of eighteen to five and twenty, still refuse to wear trains at dancing parties. They are certainly wise, as the train loses all its grace when held up in the hand. Flounced skirts are fashion able, with flounces of lace or pinked-out faille, or with a single deep flounce softly plaited; plain skirts of silk are also wem, magnificeiitly embreidered with pearl desigus and pendants. A toilette prepared for a young matron of six and twenty is of Nile blue velvet, and cream satin embroidered with pearls. The whole front of the dress, skirt, and corsage is of embroidered satin. The rest of the dress is a redingote tunic and corsage of Nile-blue velvet; the neck cut square in front, the sleeves just reaching the elbow. A high Medici collar of the embroidered satin completes the toilette. Beautiful ball toilettes are made of crepe and tulle, also of cream or white blonde. These are useful toilettes, especially the lace, as the skirts can be worn with polonaises of heavier material for dinner parties. The draperies of such dresses are short, and the corsage has a long point back and front. Very little sleeve is worn, and the neck is cut low and oval, edged with a wide lace berthe or drapery of gauze.

The dog collar, a substitute for ordinary necklaces, is a detail of evening dress which I must not forget. it is a great boon for ladies who de not possess much jewelry, as, although they frequently consist of rows of real pearls or diamond stars sewn upon satin or velvet; yet more frequently they are made with strings of coral or ordinary beads. The width varies ac cording to the length of the neck, hut as much as possible the number of bead rows should be uneven, and the beads should not be tee large. Coiffures are still very high. A simple 8 on the top of the head Is now the style generally adopted, while the hair is waved or frizzed ever the forehead, hut not quite as much over the eyes as last winter; one single flower is placed rather forward at the side. Flowers or jewel are favorite ornaments, hut feathers are not much worn this winter.

Gloves are as long as ever, and always of the unglazed kid, called in Paris Peau de Suéde; they are fashionably worn of a light or medium shade of beige with even the most dressy toilettes. No one but brides now wear white gloves. Shoes and slippers are of the color of the dress. The stockings should match the dress or its trimmings ; they are plain, of silk or fine Lisle thread, with embroidered docks.

Let me note, for the theater or concert-room, the last pretty novelty in bonnets. It is the butterfly bonnett, the herder of which falls like small wings en each side of the head. it is made of chenille, satin, or velvet, and trimmed In front or at the side with feathers put on in large clusters. Fashion.




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