Friday, March 2, 2012

Late 1910s Purple Silk Frock

This lovely piece is a silk frock dating to approximately 1918, as indicated by the waist height, use of snaps, neck and collar style, darker fabric, and tiered skirt. The under-layer of the dress has a square neck and is overlapped with several semi-sheer layers of fabric in a v-shape. Square neck lines were common after 1914 and the small sailor collar seen on the back of this dress became a fashion around 1911, persisting throughout the war. 
The sleeves are sheer, long (indicating day wear), and decorated with tassels, the same as those on the outer-skirt and hanging end of the sash. The panels of decoration seen on the front and back of the bodice and the

 hanging tassels are hand-embroidered silk,
and the embroidery is done with a metallic thread. (Left)
On this garment the waist falls slightly lower than the natural waist, and the hem of the garment is uneven and slightly shorter than full length. The sheer outer layer of the skirt is split on both sides. The wider skirt, shorter hem,  and lower waist indicate that this dress was manufactured nearer to the end of the decade. Though delicate and beautiful, this dress sports minimal frills and lace, another indication that it was made near the start of, or during US involvement in WWI.The closures on this garment are very complicated. The sleeves snap at the wrist (snaps appeared after 1915) and the skirt hooks to the bodice in front with hooks and eyes. A sash hooks on the left side over top of everything.
Not too complicated, until; you get to the bodice, which closes in a series of overlapping layers, all with strategically placed and hard-to-find hooks and eyes. Underneath all of this is a sheer lining which hooks down the center front and a solid heavy woven waist band which also hooks in the center front. Surprisingly all of these closures are still intact.The garment is in quite good shape considering the delicate fabric it is made of, and it weight and age.
The metallic embroidery makes it very heavy and prone to tearing. There are a few evident tears, notably on the front bodice panel, but the dress is remarkably well intact. Some of the sheer lining is also torn, and the hem is  slightly discolored, probably from light exposure.
Bust: 43.5"
Waist: 32.5"
Neck to Waist Front/Back:10.5/14.5"
Armscye to Armscye Front/Back: 23/20"
Skirt Length: 33.5"
My favorite feature on this garment is the tag inside the waistband which reads "The Wonder Fresno, Cal" A little piece of local history.

Blog Post by Kelsey Oliver :)

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