1890s Costumes & Research

Updated April 15, 2021

A base shirtwaist and skirt
combination, before
trims, except collar
The 1890s might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I find the era refreshing and fascinating. It was a transformative time for women across parts of the globe, and Western fashions consciously projected a new-found freedom and confidence. Besides, the sleeves...

Years and years ago, I made an 1890s blouse. Ages passed. In the early summer of 2019 I started an 1895 outfit. Originally the project was supposed to be a quick just-for-fun outfit, but before I knew it, down a lovely rabbit hole I went.

Here then are posts about the outfits -- a capsule wardrobe, actually -- that is still in progress several years later.

For the most part, the ample research underlying the garments and accessories is part of the posts. If you want to read more from those resources, links to most of the magazines and books are available on the Research and Resources and Full-text Fashion Magazines pages.

I hope that the below makes for useful and occasionally fun reading. Please do remember to credit me if you re-use any of the research.

Research Article: Period Methods for Adding Skirt Fullness in the Mid-1890s


In-depth, multi-post article explores the skirt silhouette and the raft of stiffeners and underpinnings used to create it. Sources include period books, magazines, extant objects, and short films taken in the 1890s, among the earliest in existence.
Warren's Featherbone Skirtbone, from Annie's
 Antiques on Etsy.

Analyses of Extant Garments


A tour of cut and construction. Updated September 2020 with pictures of another variety of skirt braid, also known as a skirt protector.

A heavy silk and wool(?) skirt
with design in relief


A Real 1890s Underskirt With Multiple Stiffening Aids 
This was an online find; its construction is revealing.

The 1895 Navy and White Dotted Shirtwaist and Skirt Outfit and Accessories


This is the base outfit, an informal summer cotton bodice and skirt combination, that can be dressed up or down with removable trims and accessories.

1895 Silk Godet Petticoat With Multiple Hem Stiffeners and Stiffened Frills (in progress, 2021)
Shirtwaist
    Wire Sleeve Plumpers for the Shirtwaist
    "Crush" Collar

    Collar with bow in back, belt 
    with interimbow in back
    "Crush" Belt
    1895 Outfit: A First Wearing To Test the Look 
    Description of making the belt is in the post.
      Plastron and/or Applied Tabs
      These will be removable elements that make the outfit dressier. Removable elements were a thing in the 1890s, a thrifty decade.
        Skirt
        1895: A Summer Silly Season Outfit 
        This was the skirt part of the blue dotted outfit. Skirt construction description as part of post.

        Shoes

        White Shirtwaist, with Sugar-Dipped Stiffened Sleeves


        1890s "Good Witch" Costume: Precis...and the Twins as Kittens! 
        Description of making the shirtwaist in the post. This was the first foray into anything from the decade. The sugar-dipping may have been period, but my then-toddlers easily crushed my sleeve's magnificence.

        A white shirtwaist worn
        with an antique 1890s
        black skirt

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