Costume Timeline

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Afternoon Dress, backSuit: jacket and skirt
Wool broadcloth, silk velvet
American, 1894-1896
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Castile, 81.22.42

“Dark colors are always to be preferred [for business dress]. A dark color does not of necessity mean black, there are, besides, navy blue, seal brown, Lincoln green and a deep cardinal. Any one of these colors is suitable for business wear, and not one of them is tiresome to the eye.” Ladies Home Journal, February 1894

In the early 1890s the emphasis on the volume and curves of the hips and skirt cedes to the focal point of the volume of the sleeves. The leg of mutton sleeves increased in dimension reaching their peak around 1894 and dying out by 1897. The sleeve is itself a revival of the same puffed sleeves of the early 1830s.

The suit is a practical, utilitarian ensemble suited for urban wear. The tailored look of jacket, shirtwaist, and gored skirt gained popularity through the 1890s and 1900s. Its simplicity and functionality were ideal for a new class of working women.

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