1889 Summer Dresses

Friday’s Fashion Plates
1889 Summer Dresses

These two dresses come from an American fashion plate and are described only as being for late summer. They are certainly day dresses and might be considered visiting toilettes or walking dresses.

1889 Summer Dresses

American Summer Dresses, 1889

By 1889, the bustle had finally given up for good. Skirts were becoming slender again, sometimes with a bell shape to them. Two or three petticoats might be worn, with plenty of lace and ruffles at the bottom to provide the right shape.

The outfit on the right consists of a red dress with a cherry-printed overdress. The bodice of the sleeveless overdress crosses over and is secured by a belt, while the under-bodice has a fashionably high neck and a gathered, puffy front. The sleeves are bracelet-length, with slightly puffed shoulders. The skirt is split asymmetrically, with an angled front panel that allows some of the red underskirt to peek out, and a wide braid trim decorates the edges of the overdress.

She wears long blue gloves and a single bracelet on her left wrist. A pale straw hat covers her severe coiffure; it’s turned up in the back and decorated with black ribbon, and red and green flowers. She also carries a red parasol.

1889 Dress

Closeup of Bodice, Cherry Dress

1889 Dress

Closeup of Skirt, Cherry Dress

On the left is a woman in a blue and black dress. It has a high collar and three-quarter sleeves. The lace-covered sleeves have a shorter over-sleeve of gathered lace. The bodice has a V-shaped inset at the back, with alternating panels of black embroidery and black lace overlay. A long black sash hangs down the back of the bodice, reaching nearly to the hem. The skirt is slender, with a black lace ruffle peeking out from the walking-length hem. The bottom half is decorated with two rows of flat galloon lace that alternate with three rows of black embroidery. The skirt retains a mere hint of the bustle.

She wears pale yellow gloves and a narrow bracelet on her left wrist. Her hair is done up in a simple French twist. Her black hat sports a large striped cockade, while her plain, black boots have fashionably pointed toes.

1889 Dress

Closeup of Bodice, Blue Dress

1889 Dress

Closeup of Skirt, Blue Dress


Which of the two outfits do you prefer—the elegance of blue with black lace, or the lighthearted whimsy of the cherry print?

About Lisha Vidler

I am a sewing instructor living near Memphis, Tennessee.
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