Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Clara's 1838 Frock and Pantaloons

This week's fashion page for Clara is drawn from a fashion plate which appeared in The World of Fashion; January 1838. You can see the source of the fashion plate here if you are interested. (Click on the image to see a larger version of the fashion plate.)

This is the description found in the magazine:

FIG. 3.--India muslin frock and pantaloons; the corsage is trimmed with a fichu drapery, and the sleeves with knots of ribbon. Ceinture, neck knot, and hair knots en suite.

Notice the use of French throughout the description. Paris was (and mostly still is) the center of the fashion design world, so the magazine used French terms. For instance, a corsage is the bodice of the dress. A fichu drapery is basically a lightweight scarf worn over the shoulders, sometimes crossed over the chest. A ceinture is a waistband or belt... in this case, the ribbon around the waist of the dress. The term en suite means that all the bows and ribbons would match.

In the fashion plate, the little girl's frock matches her mother's ball dress. As was the fashion back then, a young girl was not old enough to wear a full-length gown. The pantaloons she is wearing under the dress would cover her legs to the ankle, to fit the standards of modesty.

Clara is wearing the dress shown in the fashion plate, but with some pretty big changes. Her shoulders do not match the curve of those in the drawing, and her waist is not painfully thin. I hope they did not put girls that young into corsets! (I had to change the width of the neck to cover Clara's swimsuit.)

Clara has her hair in ringlets, tied up with ribbons. She also has a fashionable neck knot in place of a necklace.

The slippers from this era were very thin and fragile and would only be worn at a dance. The slippers are tied with bows, making them look like ballet shoes.

Stockings were common in this time frame, and were usually made of a light cotton. The stockings were knit into a tube, and then the sole was cut and sewn into place. Because Clara is wearing ribbons on her ankles, I have given her plain stockings, but some of the stockings from this time were embroidered with beautiful florals or other designs. It was interesting for me to look at stockings from the 1830s, including these from the Kyoto Costume Museum.

You can see the original colors of the dress in the fashion plate above: white with pink ribbons. The original shoes were a beautiful leaf green, and must have gone with a green ball gown, since most outfits were "en suite," or carefully color matched.

You may also be interested to know that along with white, ivory, and gray, these were some of the popular colors for clothing in the 1830s:

To print Clara's Dress, use this PDF file:
Clara's Dress 15 (622k)

Clara is a free, printable paper doll. Clara will be available on this blog as long as I continue to post new fashion pages for her. You can read the introduction for the Clara paper doll here.

To print the Clara paper doll, use this PDF file:
The Clara Paper Doll (718k)

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