Today’s dressgasm struck me as so much like my own style of the period that I intend to replicate it right down to the soft, yet vibrant blue color if I can ever find the right fabric.
This dress dates to 1866, which is a year after the Civil War ended. At that time, the female silhouette was beginning to shift from the exaggerated wide shoulders and skirt with the narrow waist to the more elongated, natural shape of a woman’s body. If this dress had been made before or during the Civil War, the decorative stripes on the bodice would have been wider set – more horizontal than vertical – and the shoulder seams would have been dropped a bit more. In order to replicate this dress for Civil War reenacting, I will have to do those simple alterations to the design.
I believe the main fabric is silk taffeta based on other silk taffeta dresses I have seen. The decorative stripes might be satin or another fabric that would be extremely shiny compared to the silk taffeta. The buttons on this dress may or may not be original to the dress, but if they are, they are gold and quite fancy. The lady who wore this dress had some money at her disposal.
Belts were quite popular in the mid-nineteenth century and could be attached to the bodice, skirt, or totally unattached. Many belts were made of the same material as the dress, while others were black or another contrasting color. This belt has a rosette, which is a gathering of fabric made to look like a flower. Rosettes were a popular design on belts and as other decorative pieces on dresses.