I absolutely love the use of pleating as a trim motif in the 19th century! I also admire the immense amount of time and fabric required to edge the dresses of the 1800s in pleated trim.
Take a look at the dress below and note the rolling wave pattern of the pleated trim on the skirt as well as the pleated trim on the sleeves. You can see that the trim is made of the same fabric as the dress, which was a technique often employed in the 19th century for the trimming of gowns.
Now, take a look at this dress from 1860-1861 (which was also include in this post). Doesn’t the trim style look familiar? Yes, it’s a more bunting-like placement of the trim, but the idea is exactly the same as the dress above!
So now that we’ve looked at a few actual garments with the pleated trim, let’s look at some fashion plates. You know, I went through about 50-100 fashion plates from 1860-1865 and I was surprised by the lack of plates that included dresses with pleated trim! Considering that I have frequently seen pleated trim used on existing garments I am intrigued by their relative absence in fashion plates… I wonder if pleated trim is just challenging to execute when creating a fashion plate? Certainly I found some with bands of trim, and perhaps those could have been executed with pleated trim when constructed?
In both of these fashion plates the ladies on the far left are the ones I’m looking at and think that they are wearing dresses with pleated trim. The one from 1862 as especially clear detail that shows the trim being pleated. It is interesting to note that these two fashion plates correspond directly with the two existing dresses at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.