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Rose for a Rose: Gorgeous gown with over-skirt, c1865

Rose for a Rose: Gorgeous gown with over-skirt, c1865

A beautiful rose stripe silk gown with fancy over-skirt, dating to circa 1865 and in excellent condition for you to enjoy.

When I examined the lustrous silk, all I could see was a wonderful soft pink, but on the mannequin I can see blue also, so it could be my chasing the sunshine in very rainy weather, or this may be a changeable silk! Either way this silk is in wonderful condition with not a hint of splitting. The usual area's for wear such as underarms and hems are really excellent, and although there are a few small issues, I would describe this two piece dress as very fresh.

See below for the condition report.

The dress is a one piece and if you have a copy of Bradfield, 1968 [see The Study for full reference], you will see one very similar dated by her to 1865-67 on pages 217-18. This is the delightful period when the gathered crinoline skirt of the 1850's is now developing interest to the back and although still just as wide, pleating replaces gathers at the waist.

Our dress is absolutely typical, with a front opening bodice, and tremendously wide skirt slightly trained to the back, which measures 41", again the classic length.

The main decoration to the dress is a deeply pleated self fabric ruffle with raw edges, such as the pinked ruffles of the 18th Century. These ruffles are diagonally placed on the lovely, rounded bishop sleeves. The buttons that fasten the dress front are all present, as are all the hooks and eyes found.

The bodice ends in a neat waistband, followed by the immense pleating of the skirt. This waistband, also in excellent condition, is then covered over with a separate over-skirt, which you will want to play with over and over again!

The over-skirt is pointed to the two front edges, and then deeply scalloped across the lower edge. To this is attached the same ruffles as the dress, but this time with a rich brown silk braid, with silk ribbon threaded through it. When we turn the over-skirt to the underside, there are 3 sets of 2 ties, which when drawn up, gather the entire over-skirt up into charming drapes, thus we have the early sight of the bustle fashion to follow just a few years later. The over-skirt has a pretty bow to centre front and centre back, which hide all fastenings. I am sure I tied the drapings up too high, but couldn't resist having fun with them!

The over-skirt and the entire dress; bodice, skirt, sleeves are fully lined, thus giving the silk a superb drape and body. There are bones internally, exactly as with Bradfield's study, all small. Two at each slanting bust dart and one at each side seam. One of the bones is missing from its case.

She measures quite a 'standard' 34" chest, 28" waist, underarm sleeve length 16" [not full length], 14" centre back bodice length to waistband and 15" with waistband. As I said earlier, the back skirt with train measures 41". You see her on my mannequin with a 34" chest and it is quite a tight fit. On the other hand, the dress has a bigger waist than the mannequin.

Such a pretty gown!



    As I have said above, most of the dress is in excellent fresh condition and the over-skirt is perfect.

    Here are the small issues I found on the gown:

    * The buttonholes have been oversewn in quite sturdy thread. Maybe there was just a hint of wear so the thread was used to hide it. No wear at all now, but definitely oversewn at a later date. Quite neat though.

    * The lining is a little unusual. Most of it is in a thin beige cotton except for two panels inside the bodice front. These are glazed cotton. There is a little evidence of seams re-stitched but no alterations. So, I can't think of why the two small panels aare different. It makes no difference at all to the dress. Just a Victorian 'quirk'.

    * You will have seen the lovely braid of the overskirt. There is no braid on the matching sleeve edges. And no evidence of it being removed. 

    * The vast skirt lining has a few age stains but nothing unsightly at all. One of the lining seams has come undone for a short length, very simple to stitch closed.

    That's all I think! Very good condition for a dress around 150 years old.

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