1875 Racing Dress

Friday’s Fashion Plates
1875 Racing Dress

This dress is from La Mode Artistique in 1875 and is described as a toilette for the races.

Racing Dress

“Toilette De Courses”, 1875

In 1875 the Early Bustle period began to wane. The bulk of the dress moved downward, in preparation for the Natural Form period. Skirts were narrower in front, with quite a lot of fabric behind. A skirt of this shape would have been worn with a long wire bustle, topped by a trained petticoat.

This red and white dress would have been worn during a day spent outdoors, perhaps at the races as the title suggests. It has a high collar that appears to dip down in the front. The sleeves are long, with a frill of white at the cuff, and they have a unique texture produced by rows of tiny ruffles. The bodice is cuirasse style and fastens down the back with a great many buttons.

The trained skirt is covered with the same rows of narrow ruffles as the sleeves, and has an additional three tiers of wider white ruffles. There is a pleated overskirt of white, which drapes around to the back and is edged with a scalloped band of material, perhaps an embroidered lace. Down the length of the back is a spectacular waterfall drapery, produced by a curved length of fabric that is allowed to fold over on itself, forming the characteristic waterfall layers. This is white, but edged with red material. On either side, at intervals, are fringed sashes. There are five of these, and they get progressively longer as they descend the back.

She wears her hair in long sausage curls in the back, with a white hat tilted at an alarming angle on her head. The hat is trimmed with white lace, red and white ostrich feathers, and a black bird’s wing. She accessorizes with white gloves and a matching white parasol trimmed with red ribbon.


What is your favorite part of this ensemble? Would you wear it to the races?


About Lisha Vidler

I am a sewing instructor living near Memphis, Tennessee.
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