The 1880s in Fashionable Gowns: A Visual Guide to the Decade

Fashion history is really fascinating, and if you like the history of clothes it doesn’t get much more fun than the late 19th century. Mimi Matthews has been working her way through the century decade by decade showcasing the various women’s looks as they changed over time. Here is her post on the 1880s, which I have a particular interest in; I had to do a lot of this research myself while writing my novel Doppelgänger. It would have been nice to have this blog to refer to! Enjoy the analysis and the wonderful photos.

Mimi Matthews

(Individual Images via Met Museum and MFA Boston) (Individual Images via Met Museum and MFA Boston)

The 1880s ushered in an era of tailored, close-fitting gowns, some of which were almost masculine in appearance.  These gowns exemplified women’s changing roles in society.  No longer content to be flounced, ruffled, and beribboned drawing room ornaments, 1880s ladies were engaged in outdoor pursuits.  Some had jobs, some participated in sports, and many were involved in the ongoing fight for women’s suffrage.  This was the decade of Sherlock Holmes, Jack the Ripper, the Rational Dress Reform Movement, and the ready-made gown.  This was also the decade when black evening dresses became fashionable–and not just for those in mourning.

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