Harpers Bazaar - Victorian Fashion Magazine

NOVEMBER 2, 1867



Harper's Bazaar New York Fashion




HARPER'S BAZAR:  November 2, 1867




IN this our introductory we shall merely give a glance at the fashions in general as they now prevail in New York.    In future numbers we shall narrate explicitly all the interesting details of a lady's toilette, giving each week descriptions of the new and beautiful garments fashioned by our leading modistes.


To begin at the beginning, with the bonnet, that most important article of feminine dress, we have a decided change to record in the fall shapes, and for the winter still greater novelties are predicted. The "airy fairy" Fanchon, so long popular, is gradually being deposed by a much more stately bonnet, more in keeping with the picturesque costumes now worn. This bonnet is called the Marie Antoinette. The name of that unfortunate queen is given generally to the styles of the last century about to be revived — a name so fraught with interesting reminiscences that it will by mere association lend an additional charm to the question always dear to the feminine heart of "Wherewithal shall we be clothed?" The Marie Antoinette bonnet, with all its variations of Mousquetaire, Marquise, and Princess Caroline, has a narrow brim, short ears, and a broad, flat crown without the least semblance of a curtain. It is worn farther on the top and front of the head than were the shapes of last season, and fits closely over the chignon. Broad bandeaux of gilt or of velvet, and wreaths of flowers, forming an elaborate diadem, are placed over the forehead. This diadem is the most noticeable characteristic of the new shapes, and this it is that gives the stately appearance requisite. The strings are also an important feature in the new chapeau. It has usually two or three pairs of strings, intended for service as well as ornament, as they are really required to hold the short ears in proper position. The narrow ribbons that serve to tie the bonnet at the throat are fringed or ornamented with embroidery and lace. The over-strings are of real lace with velvet ribbon insertion, or wide scarfs of colored tulle beaded with jet and gilt or dew-dropped with crystal, arranged in the Spanish fashion over the back of the bonnet.

The Fanchon still lingers with us in a slightly changed form. It used to be a matter of some doubt which was the front and which the rear of this bonnet; but as now worn the Marie Stuart point still remains in front, while the back is shorn of its point, being entirely straight on the chignon.

The Trianon, a cross between the Fanchon and Marie Antoinette, will be a favorite with those who dislike to be the first by whom the new style is tried.

In trimmings there is great variety. Feathers are not so much used as they will be later in the season. Flowers are in profusion every where. Many bonnets are simply frames covered with velvet heart's-ease or daisies. There are new designs in flowers of gilt and velvet, and many novelties in leaves and berries — wreaths of leaves of all the varied shades of the autumn forest — metallic berries, bronzed, red, and fire color, with clusters of golden wheat, grapes, acorns, and thistles of downy marabouts. Gilt ornaments of every description are in high favor; jet and pearl are used abundantly; amber has disappeared. Ribbons are but little used for trimming, and only in narrow widths. There are, however, some pretty shaded and fringed ribbons very effectively introduced as scarfs on the new bonnets.

In round hats white felt is the favorite material. Bronzed straws are worn with Bismarck suits. It is useless to name a hat, as each milliner has a different name of her own. One pretty style has a shallow crown and narrow brim; another has a half high crown and turned up brim. Wreaths of leaves and bandeaux of shirred velvet, with a rosette or an aigrette at the side, are the trimmings. Ostrich feathers and willow plumes are too large for these tiny chapeaux, and are superseded by small tufts of marabout and cock's feathers.


The picturesque gored dress continues to be the approved style. This is not only a graceful but a sensible fashion, as it does away with the absurd practice of gathering into a few inches at the waist the same quantity of material that is made to cover a large space on the floor.


There is a return to the short waists of the "Empire." The corsage is short on the shoulder and under the arm, and rounded at the waist to be worn with a wide belt. Small reversed collars are worn with chemisettes half high at the throat. Many dresses are cut away square a la Pompadour, but the high standing collar vandyked or scalloped and bound to match the trimming on sleeves and skirt is more stylish. For evening dress the neck is cut square and very low indeed.

The Marie Antoinette fichu, which crosses in front of the corsage and falls into long rounded streamers tied negligently at the back, is made of the same material as the dress, and is decidedly an ornamental addition. Waist-belts are wide and much trimmed with tasseled fringe and jet pendants. Wide sashes of lace or ribbon are tied behind in a large bow.


Coat sleeves are still worn and are gradually narrowing to the tight sleeve of the Empire. Flowing sleeves are only suitable for full dress. In their proper sphere they are graceful and becoming, but are in bad taste for home dress, where comfort and convenience are the great consideration. They are cut quite short on the forearm, sloping gradually away to a point at the back and are very much trimmed inside. Puffs and caps at the top of the coat sleeves are but little used.



Gored skirts are made with long trains for full dress. They are gored to fit plain in front and at the sides; but the two back widths are left entire and plaited or gathered in at the waist in order to give the proper fullness to the train. In very long trains these back widths are sometimes cut off square to prevent them from curling up as pointed trains are apt to do. The front and sides are quite short — gradually sloping longer toward the back, giving a graceful sweep to the train. When two skirts are used the upper one is looped up at the sides or caught up in a loose knot behind, a la benoiton.

Indoor dresses for demi-toilette have plain gored skirts just long enough to escape the floor.


Short dresses for walking have become indispensable articles in a lady's wardrobe. Short enough to escape the rubbish on the sidewalk, yet sufficiently long to be modest, they relieve the hands of the onerous task of holding up voluminous skirts, and dispense with the trouble of looping, and are withal so trim and jaunty that they would have found their way into favor had there been nothing to commend them on the score of availability. The double skirt, always popular in Paris, has found a rival here in single skirts with trimming arranged to simulate an upper skirt. The handsomest designs are the costumes in two colors — the embroidered petticoat of blue, green, or Bismarck, with black pardessus over it — a combination of the Swiss peasant bodice and peplum.


Short paletots are worn with walking dresses, and are variations of last winter's styles. The mantilla paletot has long lappets in front resembling a mantle, but the back is straight and short. A long loose sacque called the Gabrielle is worn with suits. It reaches to the knee, and is confined at the waist by a wide belt fastened behind with a large bow and ends. A tight-fitting pelisse with cape is also worn.


The Breton Jacket introduced last season is, mirabile dictu, still a favorite. It is a piquante little garment specially intended for morning wear, made of scarlet, black, or blue cloth embroidered in bright colors. Jet and gilt beads and tinsel braid are also introduced into the trimming. It was this coquettish little garment that first brought about the rage for colored embroidery which is now so universal.


Bismarck, or gold-brown, is the prevailing shade, and reappears in some guise almost every where. The new shades of green are its only formidable rivals. The deep green known as Invisible, now called “Mermaid,” is in great favor. There are a variety of lighter shades for evening wear — yellowish greens, prettier than one would imagine — and really beautiful by gas­light — these are “Pistache,” “Frog,” “Butter,” “Chou,” cabbage — names certainly not very attractive in the abstract, but which will on examination commend themselves as perfectly appropriate.



Silks are either brocaded or embroidered by hand. Decided contrast is the rule in brocades. Black and Bismarck grounds are strewn with flowers of brilliant hues — half-blown roses, heather-bells, daisies, and convolvulus; autumn leaves are scattered on a Marie Louise blue; gilt and blue figures on a white ground, and a white or amber design on black.

Handsomer and more expensive than the brocades are the embroidered robes. Heavy corded silks, Bismarck or black grounds, are worked with the needle on the front, back, and two side breadths, in pyramids of flowers, so beautiful and lifelike that a perfume is only needed to persuade one that they are real.


In plain colors there is a novelty called poult de soie antique, a thick corded silk with the lustre of satin. This is brought out in the quaint old colors worn by our grandmothers — blue-black, dead-brown, invisible-green, or mermaid, and of course the inevitable Bismarck. The quiet colors of this elegant material make it particularly desirable for handsome walking dresses.


An appropriate name for another novelty is the chameleon, a revival of the changeable silks, that take new tints in different lights. The combinations of color in these silks is most exquisite, and the ingenious French, with their talent for nomenclature, have given them separate cognomens, viz.: "Sunrise," a pearly gray combined with rose color; “ Sunset,” a golden hue in one light, purple and azure in another; and a "Moonlight," whose glimmering is too intangible to admit of description.

Among other new fabrics is the magnificent "Antwerp" silk, thick enough to stand alone, a yard and a half wide, and worth the price asked for it — twenty-five dollars per yard. Another novelty is Holland satin, a reversible material, satin upon one side and silk on the other. Drap de la Reine is corded diagonally on one surface only.


In woolen goods brown and Russian gray predominate. Merchants say they are selling ten pieces of Bismarck to one of any other color. There has been imported a larger assortment of bright plaids than at any previous season. Knotted velours, with a raised white dash, are pretty and durable, and are sold at two dollars and a half a yard. Shaded velours are a welcome change from the plain velours so long worn. Empress cloth is brought out in Cashmere patterns, and is preferable to the real Cashmere, as it is thicker and warmer. A new article of twilled winsey, a mixed gray and black, is well adapted to walking suits, as it is perfectly waterproof. Blue serge, and gold color with black, are much admired.

There is considerable variety in poplins. The chene is in grave shades of purple, green, and brown with white, while the plaids are in every color of the rainbow. In solid colors there is a French poplin that many consider superior to Pym's best Irish; it has smoother threads, is softer, and falls into more graceful folds.


Cross cut folds of satin with a heading of lace, or a narrow piping of the material of the dress placed in the centre, is a fashionable trimming. These folds are put on straight with pointed leaves at intervals on either side. Pipings of silk are braided together an inch in width. Van-dyked and castellated points of silk neatly bound are sewn around sacques and on sleeves. Elegant jet fringes and gimp are among the novelties. Amber has disappeared, but gold ornaments are used profusely. Embroidery is, however, the ruling passion of the hour. The Oriental patterns are in all colors. The work is beautifully executed, and the colors selected with artistic skill, yet the effect is not good. A French mixture of crochet work and embroidery in fine jet and black silk, or in silk of any one shade, is in better taste. The eye will follow the fashion, and we shall in time probably come to admire the brilliant variety of colors, but at present it is a little too prononcee to meet with approval.


Crinoline has grown beautifully less until it is as small as can possibly be worn. The standard skirt for ordinary toilette measures only two yards round the bottom, and those for ceremonious occasions, only three yards, which, of course, affords but little assistance in managing a train.

Under-skirts, even those of fine muslin, should be gored. Any gathers about the hips spoil the effect of the gored dress. The Boulevard skirt, made of felt, entirely seamless and shaped on a frame, is an improvement on the full balmoral.


It is rather early to say which of the many designs in cloaks will meet the most favor, but it is positively known that all are to be longer and looser than those of last year. In many imported cloaks the added length is entirely confined to the front. The long tabs and points that reach almost to the floor in front slope upward in the back until they barely conceal the waist. This is another innovation which looks exceedingly grotesque now, but to which time will probably reconcile us. Tufted cloths are not so popular as they were last winter, and have given place to smooth surfaces on which immense quantities of trimming are lavished. The favorite colors are black, brown, and purple; gray has lost favor. Cloth is trimmed with a heavy silk braid, varying from an eighth of an inch to an inch and a half in width. Velvet is profusely ornamented with embroidery and lace. Very few circulars are imported — the gored sacque with flowing sleeves being the genus of which there are innumerable species.


A love for beautiful laces is becoming a mania with ladies nowadays. Nothing tells more in a lady’s costume than the lace she wears: let that be inferior, and the richest velvets and jewels will not shield her from criticism; while real lace, of no matter how small a quantity, gives a better tone to the most ordinary material. Point Gaze, the handsomest of all laces, is beautifully brought out in patterns of fern-leaves and medallions. The Point Gaze for a trousseau, consisting of a flounce for the bridal dress, with narrower lace for garniture, a shawl, fan, and parasol-cover, and long barb, all woven in the same exquisite pattern, is marked at two thousand dollars. A Point mantle, quite large, yet of such gossamer texture that it might be drawn through a finger-ring, had two hundred medallions, each of a different pattern. The price of this beautiful work of art is twenty-five hundred dollars. A parasol of Point d'Alencon, with pearl stem and coral handle, is marked six hundred dollars.

The Shakespeare style is most popular for collars of fine lace. Standing collars, embroidered in Vandykes and edged with Valenciennes, are pretty and stylish. A small chemisette, worn inside the dress, is attached to hold them in position.

Veils of real lace are small and square, with the lower edge deeply pointed. Long barbes are tied at the back with bow and streamers, or merely fastened with ornaments of jet or pearl


Gloves are longer at the wrist, and ornamented on the back with embroidered crests and ciphers in contrasting colors, and stitching in a Grecian pattern. Substantial studs and hooks are used as fastenings, but the handsomest are drawn together by tasseled tirettes. Tiny eyelets of gilt or silver are laced together on the back of the glove by a silk cord with tassels. Etna and Vesuvius browns—redder tints than Bismarck, are the favorite shades. White gloves, hitherto so plain, are ornamented with tirettes and tassels to match the lacing on the back. Gloves intended for evening wear extend half way to the elbow, and are fastened with several studs.


There is not the general declension in prices that was anticipated.  Silks remain at the high figures demanded in war times, and with the present enormous rates of duty there is little prospect of a change. A disease among the silk-worms of China and Japan has also materially affected the silk crop.   Woolen goods vary but little from the usual standard.  Domestics have decreased in price, almost reaching the low figures of the ante-war times. 


How To Cite This Article:

"New York Fashions", November 2, 1867 [electronic edition]. Harper's Bazaar, Nineteenth Century Fashion Magazine, http://harpersbazaar.victorian-ebooks.com (2005).









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