vintage dress series books

Lady’s Fashions of the Civil War Era
Day Dress from Godey’s Lady’s Book 1860-1864
by Catherine Bishop

1860 day fashions The fashionable silhouette of the Civil War Era is easily recognized by the shape of the skirt, with its large circumference supported by a hoopskirt of steel. At first glance the styles of the mid-nineteenth century appear to be simple and uninteresting, but as one takes a closer look at the fashion illustrations one can see that the choice of fabrics, trims and details of cut can change the appearance of an ensemble dramatically. The basic fitted dress, with full skirt, that was dictated by fashion, was styled in a myriad of ways with the aid of ladies’ magazines, which flourished during this period, to make each dress unique and fashionable.

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Godey’s Lady’s Book is the most famous American lady’s fashion magazine of the era, containing a treasure trove of information on lady’s fashions. Within its pages one could find styles to suit any taste, and it helped ladies keep abreast of the latest styles. Garments were often given fanciful names like the Euphemia, the Amalia, Jacket à la Militaire, the Belle, or Lady Franklin to add enchantment. Godey’s was one of the first publications to illustrate all articles of a woman’s wardrobe, and report on the latest whims of foreign fashions.

Skirts are made as full as ever, though the crinoline is smaller, perhaps, and the turnure is decidedly changed to a gradual, sloping flare from the waist to the hem, aided by the flat plaits on the hip. There is no sign of abandonment, notwithstanding the French bulletins. Flounces, of course, from five to ten, or even twelve; if five, they are in a group, quite low down. Five flounces on the lower skirt are sometimes headed by a plain second skirt, falling on the top of the first.

Godey’s Lady’s Book, April 1860       

Ladies’ Fashions of the Civil War Era contains a selection of illustrations of dresses, jackets, bodices, blouses, sleeves, originally published in Godey’s Lady’s Book from 1860 to 1864, intended to inspire the perfect day-time ensemble. Included are designs for ladies’ dresses for all seasons of the year and many varied activities including: dresses for the seaside, riding, morning, and dinner wear. A separate section has been included on elaborate sleeves, as well as varieties of tops, including many popular Zouave styles and Garibaldi shirts.
This is an excellent resource for anyone participating in an event, be it a Civil War reenactment, vintage dance, Dickens’ christmas, period theatrical, or other event where a period ensemble is required.

© 2014
8 ½" by 11" high quality photocopy
stapled binding, 126 pages, $20.00

Book Information:
book homepage.
Excerpts from the book. (pdf)
Table of contents and bibliography.
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last updated 7dec2018/csb