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Amazing , elegant, beautiful gold silk brocade wedding dress or fancy dress with train from early 1880's.

This dress is absolutely beautiful!! The detail, the workmanship, the materials are awesome.The fact that it is in the condition it is 130+ years later is testament to that . Most likely this would be considered a Wedding Dress or at the very least a Fancy Dress. The train is a large indicator here. A train in an everyday dress would be immensely impractical!

One may also deduce the dresses owner was well off. The work in this dress is immense and expensive - the pleats alone! The button holes are machine done. I am assured by a fellow etsian that a treadle machine can produce work every bit as finished looking as an electric machine. (her personal experience here!)
Sewing machines at this time were outrageously expensive -the average woman did not own one ; her clothes were typically hand-sewn.And certainly not every woman was skilled at sewing. On that it is Interesting to note (well to me at least) a common practice for women at this time would be to have the longer seams of a garment taken to a local seamstress with a sewing machine but the remainder of the garment would still be hand sewn. Another common means, again so kindly pointed out to me by a fellow etsian, was that families utilized "traveling seamstresses" ! (her aunt was one in fact) I can only imagine her services were much in demand.

Another indicator the owner may have been well off is the fact the dress still has its train. Should a less than wealthy women at this time be fortunate enough to own such a dress they would out of necessity altered the dress by means of eliminating the train to expand their typically meager wardrobe for more practical means.

As for details of the dress itself;

Fitted bodice with boning that features piping along bottom,an ecru lace collar heavily beaded with pearls or pearl like beads and beads. Pearl like buttons all down front of bodice, button holes are machine done.( we know how those Victorian's loved their buttons!) Sleeves are coat style with cuffs elegantly trimmed with layers of pleats and lace. Inner hem of bodice had intricately material covered "weights" to assure bodice lays and stays down. It would be unladylike to expose ones underwear!

The skirt portion of this dress consist of a inner skirt , a portion of which is exposed, done in cream silk elaborately detailed with smocking and pleating layer after layer from waist down to ankles.

The outer skirt consists of two sections. The front portion has a waist drape, made to drape across middle of dress and fasten with hook and threads at the hip in an asymmetrical fashion festooned by a silk bow at hip.

The back portion of skirt is a sewn polonaise fashion which creates a graceful feminine line shoulder to waist and culminates in this particular style of pleating that creates the coveted look of a bustle without requiring an actual bustle, however one could still opt to use a bustle should they choose. The back of the dress flows into a beautiful train that is yet again edged in cream silk pleats and an inner layer of lace. Train is lined in netting intended to support shape of train.

Construction of this dress is admirable.

It appears the dress was altered (that is back bodice seam was let out) once to accommodate either a different wearer or just needed extra room for original owner. It was also pointed out to me by a fellow etsian that possible the lace and pearl applique was a later addition to the gown. It very well maybe. I could imagine a woman "updating her gown for a later or different occasion". But it is only an observation, this i cannot verify.

One hundred and thirty plus years later.... the dress has a few minor issues, but again it is impressive how well this dress has held up, it was worn and enjoyed. Seems are strong, material is in very good condition.
I fault storage methods for the pleats losing their crisp lines in places, but this i am told this is not unusual and can be remedied.
There is underarm staining, again not so unusual in a garment actually worn and particularly with coat sleeve construction- a very fitted style.
Pearl trim around neck needs to be basted back down in spots. and small stand up collar also needs to be tacked back down at one end.
Inner skirt at back (constructed of muslin,not visible portion of skirt) is torn vertically about 8" down- again assured by expert vintage seamstress easily repaired. Small area on train lace has pulled loose and needs basting.
Slight, very slight, small area about 2" low on train - (if you really look ) is lighter in color.My guess is someone cleaned it and caused some color loss.
Area at low back where pleating starts is an area about 3" that is about 2 shades darker- stain of indeterminate origin.
underneath train on lining two small areas dark staining (which i am told is why they lined this area!)
and on front of inner skirt small- very small dark stain- drip size

Overall minor issues and acceptable considering this garment was actually worn.

I was told steaming could greatly improve appearance, but i hesitate to do this. Should someone want to clean this i think it would be preferable to do that before applying any steam treatments.

As for size, well it is teeny!
While this dress is indeed well made,I am not posting measurements because I see it potentialy as a display piece,perhaps even a museum piece to be preserved,studied,perhaps replicated ,but handled carefully indeed not necessarily to be worn.

I have several more detail pictures than space allows here. I will be more than happy to email pics to serious inquiries.

please convo with any questions, I will do my best to answer.

Antique Victorian Silk Brocade Wedding or Fancy Dress with Train