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Ladies Costume

  Summer Day Dress
English or American, mid-1880s

This three-piece dress of sheer white self-striped cotton printed with widely spaced vertical stripes of black polka dots shows off the graphic pattern to advantage. The front and back of the jacket bodice are lightly pleated from shoulder to hem, bringing the rows of dots close together—in contrast to their wide spacing on the sleeves and lightly gathered under- and overskirts. Small black faceted glass buttons that form the center front closure and scallop-edged lace trimming add dainty finishing touches.

Printed mulls were popular for summer wear in the mid-1880s, and this soft, flowing dress with its airy pattern would have made a perfect ensemble for the season "of intense heat, and diaphanous fashion.”


Summer Day Dress, English or American, mid-1880s
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  Ivory Moiré Silk Damask Open Robe
Continental, c. 1775-80
  Ivory Moire Silk Damask Open Robe  

The subtly shimmering quality of this ivory silk robe à la française is created by the combination of a moiré ribbed ground and satin-weave motifs. The diaper-patterned serpentine bands interspersed with floral bouquets and bow-knots date the silk to just after the mid-century when such meandering designs were in vogue. The gown was subsequently altered around 1775-80 to update the shape of the bodice front and sleeves. These kinds of fashionable changes were common practice in the eighteenth century when figured silks represented a significant expenditure and were highly valued luxury commodities. The undiminished beauty of this lustrous silk with its creamy tone-on-tone effect perfectly imparts a sophisticated ancien régime elegance. The open robe is complimented by a petticoat of almost identical moiré damask.

Price on Request

  Zandra Rhodes Silk Organza Evening Dress
British, 1978

The British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes is well known for her highly individual, hand-screened textiles and flowing, romantic shapes that maximize the effect of the elaborate, organic patterns. A world-wide traveler, Rhodes has frequently incorporated influences from non-Western cultures into her fabrics. This particular design, “Mexican Fan,” features large fan motifs on each of the four deep scallops at the hem of the full-length skirt, as well as straight and wavy radiating lines and fine, dotted squiggles and zigzags on the beaded bodice, sleeves and upper skirt. The gown is cut to the shape of the print and has hand-rolled edges with pearls. A wide satin sash completes this fantasy evening dress. Illustrated in The Art of Zandra Rhodes by Zandra Rhodes and Anne Knight (London, 1994), cat. no. 110.


Zandra Rhodes Silk Organza Evening Dress
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Day Dress of Roller-and Block-Printed Cotton
American, ca. 1830
  Printed Cotton Day Dress, English or American, 1830s
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The widespread availability and increasing affordability of roller-printed cottons in the early decades of the nineteenth century dramatically transformed the everyday clothing of middle- and working-class men and women. Manufacturers offered new prints on a regular basis, both to spur sales and cater to a clientele with an avid taste for novelty. The small, all-over pattern with stylized sprigs in muted shades of brown and rust seen on this day dress is typical of the late 1820s and early 1830s. Romantic influence on women's clothing was at its height around 1830, and the fashionable, hourglass silhouette incorporated voluminous leg-of-mutton sleeves inspired by late sixteenth-century styles, a fitted bodice that emphasized a small waist, and a full skirt worn over petticoats. The wide brown cotton facing at the skirt hem suggests an American attribution. Probably made at home, the dress has minor alterations to the bodice, most likely to accommodate a smaller figure.


Printed Cotton Day Dress, British, ca. 1825-30

Sky blue cotton with waistband and hem printed with small- and large-scale floral, foliate and butterfly pattern in shades of red, blue, lavender-grey, white, and black. The bodice with wide, square neckline, gathered into slightly raised waistline; leg o'mutton sleeves with wide cuffs; gathered skirt with deep flounce at hem.


  Indigo resist child's dress

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