Civil War Era Dress - 1865
The female silhouette of the middle of the 19th century consisted of a fitted corseted bodice and wide full skirts. The conical skirts developed between the 1830s, when the high waist of the Empire silhouette was lowered and the skirts became more bell shaped, to the late 1860s, when the fullness of the skirts were pulled to the back and the bustle developed. The flared skirts of the period gradually increased in size throughout and were supported by a number of methods. Originally support came from multiple layers of petticoats which, due to weight and discomfort, were supplanted by underskirts comprised of graduated hoops made from materials such as baleen, cane and metal. The fashions during this time allowed the textiles to stand out because of the vast surface areas of the skirt and a relatively minimal amount of excess trim.
Date:ca. 1865 Culture: American Medium: silk, metal, cotton Dimensions: Length at CB: 60 in. (152.4 cm) Credit Line: Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. A. L. Lester, 1928 Accession Number: 2009.300.2987 http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/157873?rpp=20&pg=5&ao=on&ft=1860%27s+fashion&pos=81
1610-1615; Altered 1620
This fine early 17th-century woman’s waistcoat is particularly significant because it is shown being worn in the Portrait of Margaret Layton (museum no. E.214-1994), attributed to Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (1561-1636) and displayed alongside it. Waistcoats were long-sleeved upper garments, opening down the front and fitted at the waist using inserted gores. They were often made of linen and splendidly decorated as in this example.
Although the waistcoat was made about 1610, the portrait was painted more than 10 years later. By this time, waistlines had risen. Margaret Layton adapted to the new style by raising her petticoat and covering the lower half of the waistcoat.