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'The Fashions'. Ball dress and dinner dress or toilet de ville, February 1861

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'The Fashions'. Ball dress and dinner dress or toilet de ville, February 1861

published by Samuel Orchart Beeton, published in The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine, first published in Le Moniteur de la Mode, after Jules David
hand-coloured etching and line engraving, published February 1861
8 1/2 in. x 5 3/8 in. (215 mm x 136 mm) paper size
acquired unknown source, 1930
Reference Collection
NPG D47986

Artistsback to top

This portraitback to top

Described in the magazine:
1. Ball Dress - Coiffure Ferraris - The hair is dressed in small curls, and the flowers of the headdress pinned into each curl separately; it is dressed low behind in curls falling on the shoulders. The dress is made of white tulle, trimmed with convolvulus of various colours, or small pink roses and green leaves; the under-skirt being of white silk. The body is very low, pointed in front, and with a berthe of tulle arranged in folds or pleats; and small tulle sleeves, looped up, to show much of the arm. The white silk skirt is gored on each side, so that it is put on the body almost plain; the skirt increasing in fullness towards the bottom. The tulle skirt is composed of puffings arranged spirally, commencing from left to right; these puffings diminish in size towards the waist. A beautiful bouquet of convolvulus, or roses, is placed in the front of the body, and a wreath of the same flowers is carried to the left shoulder, round the top of the body behind, to the right shoulder, whence it falls on to the hips at the left side. The wreath continues round and round the skirt, and finishes at the bottom by two large bouquets on the left side.
2. Dinner, Or Toilet De Ville. - The bonnet, of black velvet, is trimmed with roses and white feathers, and broad white ribbon-strings. Three roses are placed at the top of the bonnet behind, and the same number of flowers in the middle of the bandeau. The bonnet projects in front, and recedes at the sides; the crown being soft, and falling in a kind of puff on the curtain. The curtain is made of black velvet; and a long white feather falls from the roses on the side of the bonnet; and rests on the curtain behind. Robe Impératrice is made of green satin, trimmed with bands of sable; the body being cut square in front, and almost high behind. The body and skirt are made in one, without a seam at the waist; and the latter has two little pockets in front, also trimmed with sable. The sleeves are large, and pleated into an epaulette; the fulness at the bottom being gathered into a band, which is hidden by the fur trimming. The top of the body is finished off by a band of sable, which continues down the front of the body and skirt to within eight inches from the bottom. A band of fur is also placed quite at the bottom of the skirt. The under-sleeves and chemisette are of white muslin. A square fur collar might be worn with this dress, cut out exactly the shape of the dress; for outdoor wear this would be very comfortable.

Events of 1861back to top

Current affairs

Death of Prince Albert, from typhoid fever. Queen Victoria goes into a long period of mourning, withdrawing from public duties, and becomes known by the satirical title 'Widow of Windsor'.

Art and science

Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management is published by her husband Sidney, who successfully maintained the Beeton brand after his wife's early death seven years later. The highly popular book, containing recipes and advice for housekeeping, appealed to the Victorian belief that a woman's role was managing the home.
Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Company is founded, marking the start of the arts and crafts movement.


The American civil war begins after the Confederate army attacks Union forces at Fort Sumter in April. The Confederates, comprised of eleven southern states who seceded from the Union over the right to independence on issues such as abolition, are presided over by Jefferson Davis, formerly senator of Mississippi. Although the Union had early successes, the Confederates' victory at Bull Run sets the Union up for a long, four-year war.

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