Second Empire style fashion of women 1860s

Women’s fashion in 1860s is characterized by extremely full-skirted women’s fashions relying on crinolines and hoops and the emergence of “alternative fashions” under the influence of the Artistic Dress movement.

After 1860, fashionable clothing becomes more accessible to more people: there are department stores, where you can buy ready-to-wear clothing, or you make it yourself with a sewing machine and a pattern. Elite women go to a haute couture house. The fashion designer Charles Frederick Worth makes the tailoring profession an international industry.

Around 1865, the woman’s skirt flattens at the front; the space is moved backwards and ends in a drag. The dress has sleek sleeves and is high-necked, and is in one piece (princess line) or in two parts, the deux-pièces. The fabric of the skirt is folded more and more on the hips and carried over rolls or cushions,

The drapery begins its return on the dresses, but also via the capes, shawls and other pilgrims.
The sleeves flatten in winter but remain wide for the summer.
The boots varnished are increasingly present.
The hats are expanding and jewelry are increasingly important.
The essential accessories are the scarf and the long belt turban style and often decorated.
The coat is short, fitted and rounded on the front.
Around 1865, fashionis to scratches and said headgear to the ancient consist of a braid in diadem on the front and a bun behind.
It is also the appearance of real dresses with skirt and bodice sewn: the skirt often has a light train and the bodice is simple with basques cut in point.

Second Empire Style

1860 – 1866: Projected crinoline
It is at this time that the crinoline reaches its largest scale. It flattens on the front and the volume is projected back, the skirt forming, in 1864, a train characteristic of this silhouette. The decor of the outfits then focuses on the kidneys. After 1862, women put on their plain dresses large Talma shawls or capes in black or white mechanical lace, called Chantilly lace. They did or did not have fringes around them.

Princess dress
This cup responds, after 1858, to a need for purification of forms.

“Little suit”
In order to remedy the inconvenience of dresses during field trips, the seamstresses devised solutions to remedy them. We then remember the rolled up dresses of the Barry, who pulled from the waist two button connected to a system of cords passing through rings sewn all around the inner perimeter of the skirt, so as to go up more or less regularly. This costume, ideal for exploring the city, was not accepted for private visits or in places requiring a very elegant toilet. Indeed, going up the bottom of the skirt, the woman exposes a fancy petticoat, black or red, matching or contrasting stockings and very provocative heels. Considered a costume of dancers, it was only introduced at costume balls, much to the chagrin of ladiesPourtalès and Metternich. Indispensable holiday resort, it invades the Normandy coast (Fécamp, Dieppe, Deauville), beaches where Eugene Boudin had the opportunity to portray some elegant dresses rolled up. The Empress Eugenie adopts this practical outfit to make ice skates, or climb the sea iceIn 1861. As early as 1862, broad coats made of woolen or muslin, and matching the skirts, were made of canvas and trimmed with trimmings. The small costumes are finally representative of the Spanish taste of the imperial court. Note that Eugenie de Montijo, symbol of the fashion of the Second Empire, is from Spain. All these retroussis announce the so-called Chinese fashion or Watteau born around 1868. It ends in the pouf then the turn. We can see in this little dress, silk or wool, the precursor of the tailor born after 1880.

1867-1870: Conic mode
Around this year the crinoline deflates and becomes conical. The loss of volume at the top is related to the fact that the metal circles are concentrated in the lower part of the skirt. Hybrid pieces appear, notably the crinolines with turn. To the few circles preserved in the lower part are added, behind, small circles concentrated up to the buttocks. There is also the addition, in 1869, of “crinolinette” horsehair, fixed in the back. The crinoline is still worn in the early 1970s. Its narrower shape greatly reduces the circumference, which could reach four meters. The circumference is reduced by half between 1862 and 1870. Thus there is no clear break between the fashion of the Second Empire and the Third Republic, as there may have been at the Revolution.






1.Emperor Frederick III of Germany and his family, 1862, Royal Collection
2.Julia Louise Bosville Lady Middleton, 1863
3.Grand Duchess Olga Nicholaevna of Russia, later Queen Olga of Württemberg (1822-1892), 1865
4.Charlotte of BelgiumEmpress of Mexico, 1864
5.Alexandra of Denmark, Princess of Wales, later Queen of England

Mauveine Aniline dyes (first chemical dyes) were discovered in 1856 and quickly became fashionable colors. The first ones were mauve and bright purple. In 1860, two fashionable brilliant pink aniline dyes were named after battles in Italy’s fight for independence: magenta, named after the Italian town of Magenta, Lombardy, and the similar solferino, named after Solferino. Magenta was popularized in England by the Duchess of Sutherland after she was appealed to by the Spitalfields silk weavers.

By the early 1860s, skirts had reached their ultimate width. After about 1862 the silhouette of the crinoline changed and rather than being bell-shaped it was now flatter at the front and projected out more behind. This large area was largely occupied by all manner of decoration. Puffs and strips could cover much of the skirt. There could be so many flounces that the material of the skirt itself was hardly visible. Lace again became popular and was used all over the dress. Any part of the dress could also be embroidered in silver or gold. This massive construct of a dress required gauze lining to stiffen it, as well as multiple starched petticoats. Even the clothes women would ride horses in received these sorts of embellishments.

Day dresses featured wide pagoda sleeves worn over undersleeves or engageantes. High necklines with lace or tatted collars or chemisettes completed the demure daytime look.

Evening gowns had low necklines and short sleeves, and were worn with short gloves or lace or crocheted fingerless mitts. The voluminous skirts were supported by hoops, petticoats, and or crinolines. The use of hoops was not as common until 1856, prior supporting the skirts with layers if starched petticoats. Bouffant gowns with large crinolines were probably reserved for special occasions.

Skirts were now assembled of shaped panels, since gathering a straight length of fabric could not provide the width required at the hem without unwanted bulk at the waist; this spelled the end of the brief fashion for border-printed dress fabrics.

Heavy silks in solid colors became fashionable for both day and evening wear, and a skirt might be made with two bodices, one long-sleeved and high necked for afternoon wear and one short-sleeved and low-necked for evening. The bodices themselves were often triangular, and featured a two-piece front with a closure and a three-piece back construction.

As the decade progressed, sleeves narrowed, and the circular hoops of the 1850s decreased in size at the front and sides and increased at the back. Looped up overskirts revealed matching or contrasting underskirts, a look that would reach its ultimate expression the next two decades with the rise of the bustle. Waistlines rose briefly at the end of the decade.

Fashions were adopted more slowly in America than in Europe. It was not uncommon for fashion plates to appear in American women’s magazines a year or more after they appeared in Paris or London.

Long coats were impractical with the very full skirts, and the common outer garments were square shawls folded on the diagonal to make a triangle and fitted or unfitted hip-length or knee-length jackets.

Three-quarter-length capes (with or without sleeves) were also worn.

For walking, jackets were accompanied by floor-length skirts that could be looped or drawn up by means of tapes over a shorter petticoat.

As skirts became narrower and flatter in front, more emphasis was placed on the waist and hips. A corset was therefore used to help mold the body to the desired shape. This was achieved by making the corsets longer than before, and by constructing them from separate shaped pieces of fabric. To increase rigidity, they were reinforced with many strips of whalebone, cording, or pieces of leather. As well as making corsets more constricting, this heavy structure helped prevent them from riding up, or from wrinkling at the waist. Steam-molding also helped create a curvaceous contour. Developed by Edwin Izod in the late 1860s, the procedure involved placing a corset, wet with starch, on a steam heated copper torso form until it dried into shape. While tight lacing continued to be a hotly debated topic among moralists and physicians, most extreme descriptions came from male sexual fantasies.

The crinoline or hooped petticoat had grown to its maximum dimensions by 1860. As huge skirts began to fall from favor, around 1864, the shape of the crinoline began to change. Rather than being dome-shaped, the front and sides began to contract, leaving volume only at the back. The “American” cage, a hooped petticoat partially covered in fabric, came in bright colors made possible by the new aniline dyes. This was followed by a hybrid of the bustle and crinoline sometimes called a “crinolette”. The cage structure was still attached around the waist and extended down to the ground, but only extended down the back of the wearer’s legs. The crinolette itself was quickly superseded by the true bustle, which was sufficient for supporting the drapery and train at the back of the skirt.Under the corset, a chemise was worn. A chemise is typically short sleeve and knee length made of linen or cotton. The chemise and stockings worn were meant to soak up any perspiration and protecting the outer clothing. Due to the many layers of dress, the women of the southern elite would take short naps to rest from wearing their large dress and escape the harsh southern heat and the constraining whalebone corsets.

Military and political influences
The Garibaldi shirt or “Garibaldi jacket” was popularized by Empress Eugénie of France in 1860. These bright red woolen garments featured black embroidery or braid and military details. Following a visit by the Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi to England in 1863, the shirt became all the rage there. In America, the early years of the Civil War also saw increased popularity of military-influenced styles such as Zouave jackets. These new styles were worn over a waist (blouse) or chemisette and a skirt with a belt at the natural waistline. Women’s fashion overall was highly influenced by the reigning Queen Victoria of England.

Rise of haute couture
The Englishman Charles Frederick Worth had established his first fashion house in Paris in 1858. He was the first couturier, a dressmaker considered an artist, and his ability to dictate design in the 1860s lead to the dominance of Parisian haute couture for the next hundred years.

Artistic dress
The followers of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and other artistic reformers objected to the elaborately trimmed confections of high fashion with their emphasis on rigid corsets and hoops as both ugly and dishonest. An “anti-fashion” for Artistic dress spread in the 1860s in literary and artistic circles, and remained an undercurrent for the rest of the century. The style was characterised by “medieval” influences such as juliette sleeves, the soft colors of vegetable dyes, narrow skirts, and simple ornamentation with hand embroidery. Material used in the southern american elite were silk, velvet, muslin and fine lawn.

Hairstyles and headgear
Hair was worn parted in the middle and smoothed, waved, or poofed over the ears, then braided or “turned up” and pinned into a roll or low bun at the back of the neck. Such styling was usually maintained by the use of hair oils and pomades.

Styled hair was often further confined in decorative hairnets, especially by younger women. These hairnets were frequently made of very fine material to match the wearer’s natural hair color, but occasionally more elaborate versions were made of thin strips of velvet or chenille (sometimes decorated with beads). Whether plain or resplendent, many hairnets were edged with ruchings of ribbon that would serve to adorn the crown of the wearer’s head.

Fashion Bonnets for outdoor wear had small brims that revealed the face. Earlier bonnets of the decade had lower brims. However, by mid-century Spoon Bonnets, which featured increasingly high brims and more elaborate trimmings, became the vogue. Bonnets were made specifically to accessorize a dress. Other less common variants, such as the Marie Stuart Bonnet, with its heart-shaped brim, and the fanchon bonnet, with its very short brim and back curtain, made appearances in the realm of fashionable headwear.

Bonnets could be made of a variety of materials. Bonnets formed from buckram and wire and covered with fashion fabric were very popular. During the warmer seasons, bonnets made of straw, woven horsehair, or gathered net were also seen. Heavier materials like velvet were favored for winter bonnets, though quilted winter hoods were much more practical and warm.

Trimmings varied according to the changing styles and whims of the individual wearer, but most bonnets of the period followed some general rules with regards to form. Rows of gathered net lining the brim was a fashion carry-over from the decade before, and a decorative curtain (also referred to as a “bavolet”) appeared on most bonnets in order to shade the wearer’s neck and accommodate for the low hairstyles. Another standard of 1860s bonnets is bonnet ties. There were often two sets, a thin pair of “utility ties” to take the strain of tying the bonnet, and another set of wide ties of silk or another fancy material. These rich ties were tied below the chin in a bow or left untied to show off the beautiful print or material.

Bonnets fell out of fashion over the decade in favor of small hats.

Style gallery 1860–1864

1 – 1860

2 – early 1860s

3 – 1861

4 – 1862

5 – 1862

6 – 1862

7 – 1864

8 – 1864

1.Evening gowns from around 1860 with full skirts held out by crinolines
2.Bouffant gowns from the early 1860s.
3.Italian woman wears a gray striped jacket with turned-back pagoda sleeves trimmed in contrasting fabric and a matching skirt. Her blouse sleeves or engageantes are full over her lower arms, 1861.
4.1862 portrait of Jenny Lind depicts her in a white evening gown with a wide lace collar. Her hair is parted in the center, rolled or “turned up” at the sides, and decorated with flowers.
5.Vienna fashion plate, showing male and female attire.
6.Artistic dress has romantic, vaguely medieval lines with a slight train, and is worn without a corset or hoops. This young girl wears her hair down. 1862.
7.Zouave jacket in bright red with ball fringe and braid trim is waist length and cutaway in front, 1864.
8.Fashion plate of 1864 shows the fashionable braided Zouave-style cutaway jacket worn with a shirtwaist (blouse), skirt, and wide belt. The lady on the right wears a knee-length velvet coat.

Style gallery 1865–1866

1 – 1865

2 – 1865

3 – 1865

4 – 1865

5 – 1865

6 – 1865

7 – 1866

1.Emilia Włodkowska wears a bronze-colored satin evening gown with bands of trim on the skirt, 1865.
2.The Empress Elisabeth in evening dress, 1865. The skirt has an overlayer of sheer fabric called illusion and is noticeably fuller in back than in front, the first hint of the styles that would prevail in the next decade.
3.Clara Barton wears a typical American hairstyle of 1865–66.
4.Countess Karoly wears her hair in a net or snood. Her hat is tipped forward over her forehead, and is trimmed with ostrich plumes, 1865.
5.Ellinor Guthrie wears a black satin dress trimmed with passementerie, 1865.
6.English shot (changeable) silk taffeta morning dress is trimmed with silk satin and machine-made lace, c. 1865.
7.Emilie Menzel wears her hair in a net snood. Her morning dress has a pointed waist and slightly puffed, long sleeves, 1866.

Style gallery 1867–1869

1 – 1867

2 – May 1868

3 – Late 1860s

4 – 1869

5 – 1869

6 – 1862-70

1.Riding habits of 1867 feature short to hip-length jackets and trailing petticoats for riding sidesaddle.
2.Fashions of May 1868. Paris designs for May 1868. Relatively understated but showing developing back detail.
3.Margherita of Savoy-Genoa wears an outdoor walking costume consisting of a loose jacket and matching skirt. The skirt is drawn up for ease of walking over an ankle-length underskirt or petticoat and hoops. She wears a bowler-like hat wrapped in a scarf or veil. Latter half 1860s.
4.Fashions of 1869 show a high waist and an elliptical skirt. Draped styles suggest a separate underskirt or petticoat. Jackets are knee-length.
5.Fashions from The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, 1869, show the beginnings of the bustle: high-waisted skirts are looped up over underskirts. Hats are worn tipped forward over the forehead, and short gloves are worn with long, tight sleeves.
6.Photo of bustle cage crinoline (1862–70) and split-busk corset (1865–75)

Source from Wikipedia