Dress, 2-piece


Unfortunately, we do not know who wore this dress as it came from the estate of the donor. We believe that it was worn by a member of his family, perhaps his mother.

This dress is deceptively simple in its overall appearance. With its plain lines and minimum trimming, the dress appears at first glance to be an everyday dress. However, the interesting use of the darker brown fabric as neck and armhole piping and to edge the trimming indicates that the overall design and resulting effect was carefully thought out. It also appears that most of the sewing was done by hand and then carefully stitched over with darker brown thread for its decorative effect.

This bustle style two-piece dress is constructed of tan silk and wool in a ribbed weave. It is both hand and machine stitched. The bodice has a round neck edged with dark brown silk piping. The center front opening fastens with eleven dark brown silk covered buttons (all but one are missing). The bodice is cut longer at the sides and back than at the front, and the bottom edge of the front is trimmed with a self-ruffle edged with darker brown silk. There is a dart on either side of the center front bodice. A self-ruffle trims the edge of the side front opening and extends up over the shoulder on the bodice to come to a ā€œVā€ shape at the center back. Additional petal shaped pieces of trim, edged with brown silk, are on the interior edge of the ruffle. The center back of the bodice is trimmed with a row of trefoil of petals. The bodice had a waist seam and a curved seam on either side of the center back that are stitched in dark brown. The center back of the bodice skirt is pleated to create fullness, and the fabric is caught up at intervals at the back to create additional fullness. The bodice is lined with brown cotton, and the skirt section of the bodice is lined with brown glazed cotton. The coat style sleeves are a two-part construction and are trimmed with a ruffle and petals at the opening. The armholes of the sleeves are piped with darker brown silk. The skirt has a self-fabric waistband, and it is cut flat at front with two pleats on either side. There is a side front seam, and two ā€œUā€ shaped bands edged with brown silk fabric and trimmed with petals decorate the center front. A deep self-ruffle edged with darker brown silk fabric is attached near hemline. The skirt has a center back closure. The skirt top is folded over and whipped to the waistband, and it is gauged or narrowly pleated at the back. The skirt is entirely lined with glazed cotton, and the hem edge is bound with brown wool tape. The skirt waistband measures 23 inches, the skirt center front measures 40 inches, and the hem width is 118 inches.

This dress was exhibited in the Hall of American Costume of the Smithsonian Institution from 1964 to 1973.

Date Made: 1871 - 18751871-1875

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Home and Community Life: Costume, Clothing & Accessories


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of the Estate of Harrison Olney Lewis

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: CS.223348.002Catalog Number: 223348.002Accession Number: 223348

Object Name: Dress, 2-pieceObject Type: Main DressWomanDressEntire Body

Measurements: waist: 23 1/2 in; x 59.69 cmfront length: 40 in; 101.6 cmhem width: 118 in; x 299.72 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746b4-dcd7-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_362222

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