Liberty & Co London, England
Pongee silk, white lace trim
Museum no. T.17-1985
© Victoria & Albert Museum, London
The dress is made of blue pongee silk trimmed with smocking and machine-made lace, full length with a train. It has double puff elbow-length sleeves, trimmed with smocking and frilled edge. It fastens at the back with brass hooks and silk eyes. The bodice is lined with silk twill and well boned. The waist-band fastening is of corded silk with a double-pronged buckle. The skirt is lined with cotton. Artistic dress was quite distinctive. In the late nineteenth century women wore soft dresses with long sleeves, sometimes drawn in at the waist. Tight corsets were not essential but a lightweight corset with minimal boning was worn to support the bust. The skirt could be slightly trained and it hung in folds. There were no hoops or frames to extend it in any way. The waist was often raised and the upper sleeves were puffed. The decoration might be inspired by ancient Greek or Italian Renaissance dress. Lightweight, washable fabrics as well as winter velvets and wools in colours considered to be artistic were popular. In the 1870s lemon, mint green, cream, fawn and salmon pink were favoured, and later in the century soft deep purple and greens were worn.