Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Clara's 1843 Carriage Dress and Cape

I hear that other parts of the country have snow and icy weather. Denver was snowed in, the BBC was full of weather reports about snow in England, and Sarajevo had three feet of snow. My family spent Friday and Saturday shoveling 7 tons of dirt – not snow. Our citrus trees needed new water basins. If you are in the area, stop by and you can have some lemons!

Nevertheless, despite our beautiful Arizona weather, I decided Clara could use a warm winter cloak. So this is dedicated to all of you who recently cranked up the heater or tossed a few extra logs on the fire.

In the mid-1800s, wealthy ladies had dresses to wear for many different occasions. Evening dresses were worn nightly for dinner or a dance. Walking dresses like this one from 1877 were worn as the lady went shopping or strolling through town. There was no creativity in naming the dresses – all the dresses were named after the time of day or activity they were designed for: evening, morning, walking, riding, carriage, etc.

Carriage dresses were less ornate and more durable than visiting dresses or evening dresses. They were designed for the warmth and protection of the wearer on a long journey in the open, drafty carriages of the day. Clara has a long silk carriage dress for a winter journey. The dress has long fitted sleeves, and Clara is wearing some wide-cuffed gloves.

Clara also has an embroidered cloak for extra warmth. The heavy wool cape provided plenty of protection from the elements, with the added bonus of being quite stylish. The wide collar – almost a half-cape – is a typical fashion design for capes from this era. The leaves were hand embroidered along the edge of the cloak.

A bonnet would provide warmth and protection for Clara’s hair, and would have been the hat style of choice for travelling. This bonnet is tied with an oversized bow that was quite fashionable.

Finally, some simple half-boots with short ties finish off the ensemble. The shoes are not elaborate evening slippers, but are everyday, durable shoes. They are not particularly well designed or fitted, so they would probably be quite uncomfortable.

To print Clara's Dress, use this PDF file:
Clara's Dress 45 (791k)

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:

1 comment:

  1. I love this cape! Thanks for the beautiful design!