Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Cool and Beautiful

It’s been a hot, sultry summer here in the northeast; our usual pattern of heat wave/cool break has not occurred this year (if you happen to find it, can you return it to us?) Of course, in 2020 we’re spoiled: we have air conditioning available to us. We don’t have to grin and bear our way through hot, humid weather, the way our great-grandparents did a hundred years ago.

But our forebears had alternative ways to deal with the heat…like wearing clothing like this:

I found this amazing dress at the “yard sale” held by my local historical society a few years back, where they enabled de-accessioned items from their collections to find a new, appreciative home. I found one other fun piece there that I’ve already written about…I’m not sure what took me so long to share this one with you, but here we are. Wasn’t it worth the wait?

My guess at its age is somewhere around 1908-1912 or so—in the few years before the first world war. It’s made of a lovely sheer linen and was machine sewn, but the seam edges were finished by hand to prevent raveling. The skirt is partially tiered, which adds a little fullness, and the bodice and skirt are set in to the waistband. As you can see from the picture, it fastens with hooks and eyes along one side of the front of the bodice down about ten inches into the skirt.

And the embroidery! Yes, it’s all hand-done, but I can even begin to speculate who might have done it. No matter what, it’s exquisitely done, and appears to have been done especially for this dress—that is, the pieces were cut out, embroidered, and then made up into the dress. The back is only slightly less embellished than the front, by the way.

Now, I know that the young lady who wore it would likely have had a chemise, corset, corset cover, drawers, and petticoats under it, so it might not have been all that cool to her. But just looking at this dress makes me feel cooler, somehow—it’s so dainty and airy. Perhaps it was made for a summer wedding; the beauty and obvious care taken in the embroidery makes me imagine a young woman working hard on it all winter, thinking of the June day when she would wear it. What do you think?


QNPoohBear said...

WOW! What a scrumptious dress! That looks like a 1910s lingerie dress to me. http://thedreamstress.com/2018/07/terminology-what-is-a-lingerie-dress-or-lingerie-frock-and-blouse-and-skirt/
They were very popular in the summer and yes with all those unmentionables it doesn't sound as cool. By 1910 she might wear a combination petticoat (a slip) with it. Those who could afford to wear white dresses had maids to wash them and the wealthy headed to the seaside or the mountains. I do know who wore that dress and what she's doing while wearing it.
Ruth visits Newport with her parents and grandparents or the Adirondacks with her friend Samantha! Here she's in the Easter Parade in New York. She wears a sturdier play dress when I take her to Newport.

Daisy said...

This dress is lovely. If I had one I would definitely wear it (provided it wasn't too fragile).

Marissa Doyle said...

Daisy, the seams on this dress are in fine shape, but there are a lot of tiny holes that look like moth damage...so not really wearable, alas.

Marissa Doyle said...

Very cute, QNPoohBear!!