Godey's, January 1875 - Fashion Plates

Recently I've been spending ... probably too much time on eBay, and I've found that while the listed Buy It Now prices for hard-bound full or half year runs of antique ladies' magazines are ridiculously high (I saw one listed at about $1,000), when the market can set its own prices in auctions, they are much more affordable.  So now I have some treats!

Description of Steel Fashion Plate

Fig. 1 - House dress of black silk, made with one skirt.  The side breadths are trimmed with kilt plaiting from the waist, with bands of silk crossing them, bound with silk of the new cardinal red; puff in the back of the skirt; jacket bodice, trimmed to correspond; open sleeves, with puffs on top.

Fig. 2 - House dress, made of two shades of green silk.  The underskirt is trimmed with narrow ruffles; the polonaise fastens over at one side, and is trimmed with a ruffle and band; the neck is cut surplice; open sleeves, at top of arm.

Fig. 3 - Evening dress of pink and white silk, made court train.  The front breadth is formed of apron and ruffle of white silk embroidered, trimmed with wreaths of foliage laid in ruches of lace; low corsage, with bertha to correspond.

Fig. 4 - Dinner dress of two shades of purple and lilac silk.  The underskirt is of the darkest silk, trimmed with one ruffle, piped with the lighter at both top and bottom; three narrow folds head it at the top; apron overskirt of the lighter silk, with two box-plaited ruches for trimming; long pointed basque waist of the darker silk, cur surplice; coat sleeves, trimmed to correspond.  Sash in the back.

Fig. 5 - Walking dress of two shades of brown silk.  The underskirt is of the two shades of silk, the ruffles and plaitings being of the lighter; the jacket waist is deep on the sides and front, and is trimmed with the lighter silk; coat sleeves, with cuffs.  Bonnet of the two shades of velvet, trimmed with a long feather.

Fig. 6 - Dress for a child of four years.  Dark blue silk poplin dress and cloak, trimmed with Duchesse lace.  Blue velvet hat, trimmed with white and blue feather.

Description of the Extension Sheet, Second Side (first side and earlier parts of second are missing)

Fig. 24 & 25 - Girl's cross-over fichu and tablier.  This style of garment, made in woollen materials, will be much worn by girls from seven to fourteen years of age.  Our model is made of blue serge flannel, and is trimmed with a blue woollen fringe, with a fancy heading streaked with color.  The tablier is draped at the sides, sewn to a waistband, and fastens at the back.  The fichu crosses over the chest, and at the end turns back with a revers.

Fig. 26 - Black velvet bodice, trimmed with blue jet ornaments and feather trimming.

Figs. 27 & 28 -  Front and back view of dark blue cloth dress, braided, for child of three years.

Figs. 29 & 30 - Front and back view of dress for girl eight years of age, made of brown diagonal serge.  The underskirt is trimmed with two ruffs; the overskirt and jacket bodice is trimmed with narrow piping folds.

Fig. 31 - Fashionable kid boot, buttoned, and stitched up with white.

Fig. 32 - Evening coiffure, composed of braids and puffs, with a bow of ribbon and a rose at the right side.

Figs. 33 & 34 - Front and back view of black velvet sleeveless polonaise, embroidered with jet and silk, and trimmed with lace.


  1. Wow! Lots of work for a fabulous hand sewer here!!! Thematically, as far as decoration goes, do you see a link between this and your French fashion postings from the earlier century? And the manipulation of wads of fabric--up, down, out or just pushed to the back? I had a costume history teacher who talked about the development of feminism and how a burst of power for women was usually followed by a period of excessively feminine line for women--the long Victorian period that came after Mary Wollstonecraft, the 1950s after the flappers and freedom during the big wars. She also said that in times of feminist freedom, fashion played down the more assertive lines of a woman's figure--that a woman could only take the reins if she looked as much like an androgynous creature as possible. I don't know if that's true, or accepted thinking, but she sure had some good examples to back her up!!
    Thanks for all the beautiful detail. Makes me wish I costumed a few French Revolution shows, or at least a few Dickensian ones!
    Nancy N

    1. I do see some similarities! They were going for a Rococo Revival from the 1830s, and with the early bustle period they started emulating the later part of the century, with the polonaises and the bum pads. The large ruffles around the bottom of the skirt seem to be related to the volants. The ball gown's open overskirt over a petticoat trimmed on the front, that too.

      I think your teacher's point holds true in a general sort of way, but it's a bit more complex than that. I started to go into it, but I think it'd be better served as a full post, if you don't mind?

    2. Mind? I'd be delighted! The teacher's comment, in a general way, was that if the male establishment was threatened by women in general, women could do themselves a favor by literally whittling themselves down, into a more masculine guise. Your average Joe (or Trevor, or Claude) didn't want to be bossed around by a Valkyrie in full-bosomed and panniered glory... I don't know that it's that cut and dried -- kind of like predicting the rise and fall of economic indices using a woman's skirt-length...


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