Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Taking to the Waters - Part 2

I thought this fashion plate might provide us with some creative inspiration for our bathing costumes - it's nice to have not only the image but the description also:

Godey's July 1864
(See engraving, page 21.)
Fig 1.- Turkish pants of a gray and white striped material, fastened at the ankle with an elastic cord. Paletot dress of a dark blue and black flannel, made with a small cape, and trimmed with black mohair braid. Oil silk hat, bound and trimmed with scarlet binding.
Fig 2 – Suit of pearl-colored flannel, trimmed with dark blue flannel, and braided in a plain Grecian pattern with narrow blue braid. Cap of oil silk, trimmed with dark blue flannel.
Fig 3. – Suit of black cloth, bound with scarlet flannel. The collar is of scarlet flannel, also the cap, which is trimmed with black braid and a long black tassel.
Fig 4. – Suit of scarlet flannel, trimmed with wide and narrow black braid. The dress is decorated with applications of black cloth, cut in the shape of anchors. The hat is of white straw, trimmed with scarlet braid.
There's a lot to consider, colors, trims, fabric and accessories - footwear will be an absolute necessity for bathing on Mackinac's shores
The fashion notes provide a few more details:
As the warm weather is hurrying persons to the sea-side, a few hints on bathing dresses may be acceptable.There is no dress so easy of accomplishment as a neat, tasteful, and comfortable bathing-dress; and yet, sometimes, when watching bathers at the sea-side, one is tempted to believe such an accomplishment impossible.
Instead of the usual flannel, Mme. Demorest is making bathing dresses of moreen, and considers this material better adapted for the purpose. It is of a strong, firm texture; not too heavy, does not cling to the person after being in the water, as it immediately drains off.
A very handsome suit just finished at her establishment, No. 473 Broadway, was of drab moreen, the waist plaited to a yoke, and into a belt at the back, the front left loose and belted in like a morning wrapper. The skirt not too short, about halfway below the knee, and plaited at the back in large box plaits; the sleeves full, and fastened by a close band at the wrist; a small round collar of the same material give a neat finish to the throat. The trimmings consist of a band of scarlet cloth, one inch wide, stitched all round the skirt, a short distance from the edge; the same on cuffs, collar and belt. Bloomer pants, fastened into a band of scarlet cloth at the ankle completes the dress. This suit should of course be lined except the skirt, and was, in this instance, neatly done with a very thin muslin, with just sufficient texture to make it smooth; and the seams were covered in the same manner as a double gown.
Another of the same goods cut like a circular, only joined on the shoulders, was nearly finished and was exceedingly pretty. The skirt being very full, with full sleeves and pants, and dark blue trimmings instead of scarlet, made a very tasteful suit.
But we doubt the propriety of any but a genius at the work attempting to cut it. However, we remember that a duplicate pattern may be had from this establishment of any and everything desirable in the dress department.
By the way, why does not some leader of fashion at Newport or Cape May introduce the Havelock as an appendage to a lady’s bathing hat? It is so disagreeable to have the sun beating down on one’s neck, which it will do, in spite of the wide-brimmed hats. We merely throw out the suggestion.
I must say, I don't plan adding a havelock to my bathing cap or hat!

And just in case you were wondering what "moreen" might be, here's a definition from the Century Dictionary and Cyclepedia:

"A fabric of wool, or very often of cotton and wool, similar to tammy, commonly watered, but sometimes plain. It is used for petticoats, bathing-dresses, etc., and the heavier qualities for curtains."

It's even still being produced, at least for upholstery - see what it looks like here. It'd be interesting to know if anyone is making it in apparel weight.

1 comment:

  1. Great finds! I researched bathing costume when I did my springs research, and as you know, I wore one when I spoke! I'm glad you saw the same thing I did about the sleeve length as well..I've seen several "reproductions" of what was supposed to be an 1860s bathing costume based on later images, with short sleeves! This looks like fun!