1883 Victorian Wedding Ensemble
Well, I bought it maybe 12 or 15 years ago at an auction. Was thrilled to find that I had all the extra things to go with it, including an invitation. And I discovered that the bridegroom came from northeast Ohio. I bought it at an estate auction. It was just thrown in a box with all the extras that went with it, and I paid $125 for it.
The invitation dates 1883.
The wedding was performed near Cleveland, Ohio, so the gown was probably made by an accomplished seamstress near there. It's a beautiful wedding gown. And it's created in two pieces. We call a dress or a gown today a one-piece ensemble, but back in the day in the 1880s and before that, they called a dress a two-piece ensemble. Usually was a bodice and the skirt. This one is made of a beautiful silk printed fabric, which was made here in America. It's accented with beautiful scalloped silk lace. All around the bottom you see pleating and extra detail. It's in almost flawless condition. There's a little bit of damage to the lace that could be repaired. It's from the period we call the bustle period, which is the 1870s and 1880s. And I'm going to turn the mannequin because you can actually see what the bustle does to the figure. When a woman got dressed, she would have started in the morning, she would have put on her chemise and her pantaloons, and over that she would have put a corset. Then she would have put on a bustle pad. And they're quite hard to find. You don't see the pads very often. The bustle pad would have been tied around her waist. That would have given this back shape to the garment. It is created with twill banding, and is almost architectural in design.
Over the bustle pad would have been a couple of skirts to create the rest of the fall of the garment.
Their job as a woman was to be an ornament to society. A woman wearing this would have very constricted movement. So a lady had to learn to sit properly. For a short period of time, they even made chairs that were bustle chairs where the back was cut out so when a woman sat in them, she wouldn't have to worry. In the condition that it's in, I would say full retail value on it is between $750 and $850 for the dress and shoes. And another $250 for the bustle pad.
Wow! That's really interesting. I had no idea the bustle was worth that.
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