Heritage, Volume 7, Number 3, Summer 1989 Page: 11
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copied. The best seamstresses would do the
fitting, and all the other females in the
household would help with the plain work.
The gentlemen would often bring yard
goods for their womenfolk from visits to
town. Elegant fabrics such as silk and crepe
were readily available, even in small Texas
towns, and were generally indirectly imported
from France and Italy.
Another alternative was a traveling
seamstress. Some spinsters or widowed
ladies made careers of visiting clients'
homes for a month or so, dressing the entire
household. Everyone was still expected to
chip in and help. It was rare indeed that a
married woman bought a dress "off the
rack" at a dry goods store, though these
were available. It showed that she was a
good manager to make the clothes for her
The Regency period before Victoria was
renowned for ladies "painting" their
cheeks with rouge. Women were thought
unhealthy without very high color. But the
Victorians reacted to this and limited the
amount of rouge worn. Indeed, the 1840s
saw a total lack of make-up, but by the
1850s, some color, eyebrow and eyelash
dye, and false hair pieces were permitted.
But it was still considered unladylike to
have this be obvious. Once again, only
loose women were overly painted.
The next generation did not think this
way, however. Grandfather often said,
"Paint helps barns and women!"
The signature of this period was the
development of the extremely full skirt and
its support, the crinoline, popularized
about 1853 by the Empress of France. As
starch and petticoats can go just so far in
giving a skirt fullness, a horsehair or wire
cage called a crinoline was pressed into
service. It held the skirts in a bell shape,
made the skirts much cooler, and allowed
for easier walking. It gave small-waisted
women a very feminine, tiny waistline
when compared with the fifteen-yard
skirts, though it must have been some trick
to handle one's skirts, fan and reticule all at
the same time. The arms of some chairs
were eliminated so that crinolined women
could sit gracefully.
One of the most obvious and most often
neglected parts of costuming is the
hairstyle. One much-heralded Texas Sesquicentennial
series by a Houston TV station
featured women in plain, limp calico
dresses with long stringy hair a la 1970. No
Victorian female ever wore her hair down
in public after age sixteen or seventeen. It
was her coming-of-age, the symbol of her
maturity. To wear one's hair down was also
shameful and immoral; one's husband was
the only person permitted to see one's
tresses undone. Women sporting loose hair
were obviously "professionals." Thus arose
the expression "to let one's hair down."
There was, in essence, one basic style
from 1830 to 1870. The hair was parted
down the center, sometimes rolled back off
the forehead, and drawn to the nape of the
neck to be made either into a bun or sausage
curls. False curls, braids and hair loops
were often worn, held by pins or ornamental
combs. For evening wear, small flowers
were added, especially tiny rosebuds for
young girls. Sometimes the hair was
combed back and covered with a snood or
hair net of black silk that could be beaded.
The "Bibi Bonnet" popular in the 1830s
was a very flattering style. It was a straw hat
with conical crown, often decorated with
lines of fine lace ruffles framing the face
inside the brim. The "Poke Bonnet" followed,
usually of a straw base that hid the
face like horse blinders. The trend then
turned to the round hat, resembling garden
party and bridesmaid types of today, with
shallow crowns decorated inside and out
with overlapping layers of lace, ribbon and
frills. The "pork pie" hat came into fashion
by 1859, a large pillbox made of velvet or
straw. But this was considered "fast" and
worn only by daring young women.
The hairstyles of the 1870s decreed that
hats simply perch on the top of the head
and the top of the hairdo. Thus the confection
arose called the small hat- a tiny oval
hat with a small brim worn straight on the
head. The small hat was piled with ribbons,
lace, birds' wings, ostrich plumes, flowers
and foliage. Ribbons were sometimes tied
in a bow under the chin, and sometimes
allowed to trail over the shoulders.
Hats of the 1880s were, in the words of
one fashion historian, "bizarre." They were
influenced by the Art Nouveau movement
in colors of gray, bronze, rust, steel and
olive, but featured strange things perched
thereon. Such things were stuffed mice,
whole stuffed birds, reptiles, spiders, water
beetles, toads, etc. Whole shiploads of
YOUNG LADIES', Style 92.
Ages, 10 to 16 years.
THIS GARMENT is made for GROWING GIRLS-the
most critical period of life. It fits into the hol,
low of the back and CURVES OUTWARD down the line
of the front, following the natural outline of the
form without pressure upon any vital organ. A Hygienic
Garment.-Also made for Other Ages-Babies,
Infants, children (Boys and Girls), Misses & Ladies.
IT IS A VERY SATISFACTORY GARMENT.
For sale by leading dealers. Lady canvassers wanted
~-Send for Illustrated Price List..._
THE FOY, HARMON & CHADWICK CO., Brooklyn, N. Y
HOW TO MAKE
face a r - inanadver
deficient it m ernt;
beauty ow - send 6e. iU
ringuto =nde. taenos andveloped
figures, cuar with testf~
flat busts, etc, moniaJa, wit b4
:which can be rem e nt you sealed, by
died by the use of return mall.
I LE.MIABiSH ds CO.. Madison i4., Phil., ],
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 7, Number 3, Summer 1989, periodical, Summer 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45431/m1/11/: accessed November 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.