|All aboard the train...|
What follows is part two of the complete, unexpurgated essay I wrote for English class during the school year of 1954-55, age twelve. I assume the attempts at humor were intentional, but it was too long ago to know for sure.
1870 - 1880
There were two important reforms in dress made during these years. The Aesthetic and Man-Woman dress were their names. They were not too successful but a step in the right direction anyway.
The Aesthetic reformers tried to popularize the Greek style and lovely colors. There was also a strong Japanese influence in their modes. Their chief leader was the author Oscar Wilde. The Man-Woman dress was hideous. The dress consisted of an ankle-length belted coat topped with a bowler hat. This outfit was worn by both sexes.
However the majority of people during these years didn't adopt the Aesthetic or Man-Woman dresses. The women wore trains which swept up anything from orange peels to cat food. One thoughtful observer made this notation of what a lady had swept up in her train:
> Two cigar ends
> Nine cigarette butts
> A portion of pork pie
> Four toothpicks
> Two hairpins
> One stem of a clay pipe
> One slice of cat's meat
> Half a sole of a boot
> One plug of tobacco (chewed)
> Straw, mud, scraps of paper, etc.
It was the crinoline's end and the beginning of the bustle age. These bustles lessened towards 1880. The hour-glass shape and the nineteen-inch waist were popular. Dark shades and harmonious colors were worn.
Men wore frock coats and narrow plaid trousers. Bell-bottomed pants were introduced. Top hats, very high and narrow, were popular.
Children's clothes were very elaborate. This was the age of the monkey suit for boys. Big bows were worn on the backs of girls' dresses. Their pantaloons showed.
1880 - 1890
This period is known as the "hideous Eighties", possibly the worst period for women's dress. By now the hour glass was too popular. Women were ruining their health as well as their figures.
Men wore frock coats, and a long-waisted overcoat was a great favorite. Tails were worn for evening. A lounging jacket called a Norfolk jacket was also introduced.
|The Norfolk jacket|
Women's bodices came to a "V" in front, and there was a huge bow at the back of the skirt. Trains were worn only at night. Capes and tight-fitting coats were popular. Muffs and bonnets were also popular at this time. The picture hat was first introduced. Bright colors (especially shades of blue and purple) were worn. Women used no make-up, so if you've ever seen your mother right after she gets up, you know how bad they looked.
|A worthy Worth|
Charles Worth was a prominent designer during the reign of Empress Eugenie. He started out as a small tailor and eventually bought the tailor shop. He then named it the "House of Worth". After his death Worth's children, Jean and Gaston, took over his Paris establishment. This was the year 1884.
Children's clothes were fancy and very frilly, and they clearly showed the popular "bandaged-up" look.
|Timeless advice from Oscar Wilde|
to be continued...