First published in January 2013, the 4th most popular post of 2013 examines a striking red and black ensemble. With its high-contrast coloring and abundantly full sleeves, this two-piece day ensemble is truly a show-stopper.
In the 1890s, most women’s dresses were made-to-measure. Though ready-made clothing was increasingly common, garments that required a precise fit or featured delicate embellishment were typically custom-made, either by the wearer herself, or by a trusted seamstress. Though some women had the financial means to purchase their wardrobes in Paris, most women relied on the advice of their (hopefully up-to-date) dressmaker, example gowns made in the latest style, or on printed descriptions of new fashions. Fashion magazines gave detailed descriptions of stylish garments so that women could make, or have made, approximations of the styles described. This passage from June 1894 is typically detailed: "A dainty organdie with a pale lavender ground, deeply spotted with deep purple flowerets, has two simple six-inch ruffles finishing the skirt, each ruffle trimmed with two rows of narrow moire ribbon in the deep purple shade."1 The description continues, providing the reader with enough information on cut, material, and embellishment to enable the creation of a similar garment. Simple line drawings sometimes accompanied these written descriptions.