Braid trimming on 1860s gowns

I have noticed a particular style of trim used on multiple 1860s gowns that I find interesting and want to share with you.

This first gown was also included in my post Bolero and Zouave jackets of the mid-19th century. The bolero style of the bodice is exceptionally well suited to the 1860s: you can read more about that by clicking on the link at the beginning of the paragraph. What I find most fascinating about the dressmaker’s choices in this dress is the fabric and trim. The pale yellow background is wonderful, but to me the foreground (with the cinnamon colored lines and bunches of flowers in between) as well as the small flowers on the background create quite a busy look all on their own. And then to add the green trim on top, with a repeating vertical line motif… but there’s even more! There are tassels and the yellow and green twisted cord zigzagging between the points in the green trim. It’s just a lot going on, and I do think the end result is lovely and congruous, but I think if I was designing a dress I wouldn’t be able to envision all of these elements coming together in such harmony.

c. 1862 dress at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

This second dress is actually a dressing gown. The trimming is not exactly like the bolero dress above, but it is strikingly similar. It is a narrow braid that is used as a border trim in horizontal repetition with points where the trim pattern lifts up into diagonal lattice patterns. The trimming is really quite stunning on it’s own, but consider the time it would take to actually trim a garment in this fashion!

c. 1860 Dressing Gown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

c. 1860 Dressing Gown trim

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