Evening dress, ca. 1884–86
American or European
Gift of Mrs. J. Randall Creel, 1963 (C.I.63.23.3a,b)
The Met says: After a period of literal descent down the back of the body, the bustle achieved its greatest extension by 1885. It was almost perpendicular to the back and heavily draped and trimmed. The 1880s versions were as padded and heavily embellished as a drawing-room hassock of the period. It was a popular conceit that these bustles could support an entire tea service. To sustain the greater weight of the 1880s gowns, light and flexible infrastructures were created with flexible materials—wire, cane, whalebone—held together by canvas tapes or inserted into quilted channels. The torso above the projection of the bustle was further articulated into an hourglass shape, so much so that it appeared to be encased in a piece of armor.
Emile Pingat (1820–1901), Paris, Skirt and polonaise, 1885. Velvet, beads, silk, glass. Collection of Shelburne Museum. 2010-75
"Emile Pingat has taken a page from the 18th century, adapting a classical men’s court ensemble and feminizing it. Instead of breeches that match the coat, there is a long velvet skirt finished with a ruffle. The apparent waistcoat is not a separate garment but instead is constructed as two decorative panels set into the coat. Pingat has updated the style and beauty of aristocratic men’s clothing by adding the small pointed zigzag motif in the embroidery. This one-of-a-kind colonial revival style dress would have been worn to a ball or masquerade with appropriate accessories that could have included a wig, fan, and shoes.
Jacket made of heavy wool in wine and cream. Tight fitting, hip-length jacket with stand-up collar. Front attached vest is ornately trimmed with maroon machine embroidery. The same trim is found on the shoulder, bottom of sleeve and on the back. Skirt of the jacket is shaped to fit over a bustle. c. 1890s.
The jacket was worn by Jessie Webb Corwin’s mother, Jessie Mason Webb.