vintage dress series books
vintage dress series books


Evening Dress of the 1890s
As seen in Harper’s Bazar


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    Elaborately trimmed corsages and very simple skirts are the vogue of the season. This excellent arrangement finds great favor because it can be made becoming to both slight and large figures, and also affords many ways of renewing the dresses of last season.

Harper’s Bazar, April 14, 1894

    Rich and glowing colors are effective at the sea-shore, and will be found this season in many costumes carried to Newport—most beautiful of summer cities. Evening dresses for Summer dinners and dances are of the embroidered muslins now having such favor, and also of moire and chiffon. White and pink are the colors most used, sometimes alone, more often together. Yellow frocks are also made with chiffon and embroidery on moire, in odd brocades in small designs, and on taffeta or satin.

Harper’s Bazar, June 30, 1894

Ladies' Evening Dress of the 1890s: as seen in Harper’s Bazar contains illustrations from issues of Harper’s Bazar from the mid-1890s. The styles popular in the mid-1890s, with very large puffed sleeves, have been adopted by the Vintage Dance community as the preferred gown style for this era of dance. I have compiled a group of illustrations of evening and dinner gowns as well as costume accessories such as fans and shoes to help complete your vintage outfit.

Evening gowns of this period came in a wide variety of styles, both with and without puffed sleeves, in gossamer silks and heavy rich brocades or velvets, and with or without trains. The extravagantly puffed sleeve makes for a very distinctive gown that is easily recognizable as being from the 1890s (in the 1999 movie version of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, set in the mid-1890s, there’s not a puffed sleeve in sight!). There was also a great interest in historical styles, such as those of the Renaissance; many of the gowns seen in this volume have a decidedly historical flair: there are also many gowns that claim to have historical inspiration, but appear to be entirely of the 1890s.

In addition to evening gowns, a few dinner and reception gowns have been included; while not evening dresses per se, they can be made quite suitable for wear at a ball with slight modifications such as lowering a high neckline or shortening a long sleeve. Gowns with trains are also represented; although elegant, they are not as well suited to a full evening of dancing. We have included the original descriptions that accompanied the illustrations, as well as a few reduced-scale pattern diagrams for evening bodices that were originally published as a supplement to the magazine.


8 ½" by 11" high quality photocopy, with stapled binding
107 pages
over 100 black and white illustrations
first published 1999
revised and expanded edition published February 2000.
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