Tuesday, February 10, 2015

History's Runway: A Seaside Dress, 1872

Seaside Day Dress
England, c. 1872
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Inspired by the classic sailor suit, this day dress was made in the early 1870s as a sporting outfit to be worn for a day at the seaside—walking or boating. Constructed of easily-laundered (by Victorian standards) cotton, the outfit is meant to be practical without sacrificing style.

A hip-length jacket with a square collar is finished in scarf ends. The overskirt boasts patch pockets with another pocket in the seam. A stitched bow adorns the belt. Unlined, the ensemble would have been ideal for a warm day.  Bone buttons offer a charming contrast to the combination of medium blue and ecru stripes and the rich, deep blue of the finish-work.

It was made in the United Kingdom, likely in London. Few such example of sporting outfits of this period remain. Though the materials were durable, these types of ensembles were more quickly consumed due to the nature of their use.

You'll see that, as was the style of the time, this was worn with a bustle beneath the dress.  The skirts are shorter than would have been acceptable for city-wear, but this served to keep the hem from dragging in the sand.  

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