Getting Attached to “Detachable” Items

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If you are interested in getting a different look for your outfit, accessories can make a huge difference!  Today, we mostly turn to scarves and jewelry to spice up or alter our clothes.  However, these go-tos were not always the first choice in decades past.  Many women used what we can think of as “detachable” items that were either pinned, buttoned, or basted onto their clothes. This allowed for everyday clothes to be given a little pick-me-up for a very affordable price.  Simply remove for cleaning and then use on any garment that could use a little something extra.

Collars were the most common form of the “detachable” items, although under sleeves, as seen during the Regency era or during the 1850’s-1860’s, were also quite common.  Mostly made of stark white cotton, linen, or lace, these little beauties came in various sizes, shapes, and textures.

This 1860’s lace capelet/collar is fascinating as it appears to be covering up an evening gown…perhaps making it more appropriate for daywear!

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This woman wears both a detachable collar as well as under sleeves, a very common and economic look during the 1860’s.

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Although some color enhancements on this particular  1860’s image highlight the trim, notice the wide Peter Pan collar and ruffled under sleeves.  

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Here are a few more wonderful examples from the 1860’s of collars, chemisettes, and under sleeves showing the wide variety a woman could create for herself.

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Women’s fashion at the turn of the century also featured detachable collars, although I must say they look extremely uncomfortable to wear!

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Detachable collars also saw a rebirth during the 1930’s in a wide range of sizes, lengths, and finishes!

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So why not create your own detachable item for that blouse or dress that maybe has seen better days!

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A Timeline of Fashion’s Influence

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A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the British men’s clothing company T.M. Lewin.  While I never have personally purchased clothing from them, I was very aware of the name and longevity. Established in 1898, they have spent the past one hundred years providing high quality men’s clothing and are well-known for the introduction of the button down shirt.  So what, may you ask, is a men’s clothing store doing reaching out to me, a women’s historical clothing blog?  Well, the company wished to celebrate 300 years of British influence on men’s fashion and wondered if I would be interested in participating.  At first, I wasn’t sure what I could do.  I mean, I enjoy men’s clothing, but enough to write about it?  I just wasn’t sure.  So I thought and spent some time studying the fabulous timeline graphic they sent me, and realized the large connection between men and women’s clothing. I thoroughly enjoyed my time researching and loved finding examples of women’s fashion that directly corresponded with men’s.

So, with all that said, I decided to participate in their celebration…but with my own twist.  Below you will find sections of their timeline along with examples of women’s fashion which bears influence and connection….although with a bit more grace and femininity!

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The 1700’s

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I choose to highlight the floral impact on fashion for this particular century.  While today, most individuals equate floral prints exclusively as women’s clothing, that was not always the case.  Notice the embroidery on the men’s suit, along with the influence on the floral print of the women’s gown below!  Both are absolutely stunning!

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1770’s Floral Gown from the Digitalt Museum

The 1800’s

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I have a slight obsession with anything Regency.  I just do.  So clearly, out of this century, I had to pick something from the 1810’s.  And what better choice than showing examples of the riding coat!

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1815 Men’s and Women’s Riding Outfits, Kyoto Costume Institute 

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My second choice to highlight from this century is the Sack Coat from the years 1850-1860.  A loose fitting outwear garment that was worn by both men and women.  Similar in shape, color and decorations were the two only real ways that this coat differed.

Men’s Version

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Women’s Version

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The 1900’s

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From this century, the first item that stood out to me is the trench coat.  A item that is just as popular today as it was a hundred years ago.  Similar in color and shape, women tweaked this item to create a coat known as a duster.  A handy little item used to protect one’s gown from those dusty automobile rides!

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Of course, post on 20th century fashion would not be complete without a little 1940’s love.  With the suit a well established staple for men, women, especially during the second world war, followed suit…no pun intended! 🙂  Similar in pattern and shape, both genders embraced the structured look the suit of the 1940’s offered.

Men’s Version

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Women’s Version

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This reciprocal exchange of fashion influence will continue to shape fashion for decades, and I daresay, centuries to come.  But with tweaks here  and there, each gender can appreciate and enjoy something unique!

Many thanks to T.M. Lewin for inspiring this post!!

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A Regency Era Photoshoot

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What do you get when you take two friends, a plethora of historical gowns, and two large Pumpkin Spice Lattes?  A wonderfully fun time with some fabulous pictures to prove it!

 A few weeks ago I decided that I wanted to photograph a large portion of my historical gown stock using real life models.  So armed with a fully charged camera, my friend Cassandra and I braved the rainy and slightly chilly elements over the past two weekends to photograph some really stunning images!  And since there are so many pictures to see, I will just get right to it!!  

I hope you enjoy!!!

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Oh and one last picture of Cassandra discovering the most perfect fall leaf of all….lovingly named “Leif Erikson”

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All of these gowns are available on my Etsy Shop!

I hope you enjoyed these photos as they were an absolute delight to take!

Have a fabulous Monday!!

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On My Inspiration Board: Calico Gowns

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It is hard to believe that a fabric which evokes simplicity, homey-ness, and (if you are me) Little House on the Prairie, has a very fascinating and international history.  Originating from Calicut, India, the fabric we know as calico gained popularity from it’s early 11th century birth and well into our modern age.  Known for a sold color on which a simply design repeats all over, calico has become a much used piece of fabric.

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An example of an early calico fabric

Long used for a variety of sewing projects which ranged from dresses to quilts to kitchen linens, calico is easily one of the most widely used and widely appreciated fabrics around.  The other wonderful thing about calico is it’s very affordable price tag.  I love picking up yards of happy calico, even if I don’t have a particular project in mind, because of its versatility.  While not exactly known for it’s luxury, there are many examples of gowns constructed from calico.  In fact, Hollywood has some wonderfully fun samples of calico dresses, even if they aren’t completely accurate:

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So with all these wonderful choices, I had a very fun time creating this month’s inspiration board!  I hope you enjoy!

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Click HERE to visit my Pinterest Page for more examples.

Have a wonderful Monday,

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On My Inspiration Board: Lovely Green Gowns

Growing up green was (and still is) my favorite color!  Rich, deep emerald and hunter greens being my absolute favorite tones.  I remember when I turned 12 and was getting ready to start junior high school.  My eyes, up that point, had been blue…sort of a deep, rather muddy blue.  I always dreamed of having green eyes…but had resigned myself to a noncommittal blue that nature seem to have bestowed upon me.  But then…it happened.  My eyes changed to green!  Many thought I had lost my mind.  “How do eyes change?” they said.  But nonetheless, they did and I took it as a good omen for the beginning of my 7th grade year.

Green in its various shades can ooze an aura of calm, of control, of earthiness, or of richness.  As well loved as the color blue, but not as often worn.  In fact those wearing green may find their daily quota of compliments delightfully increase!

The same can be true for women of past centuries who paid a pretty penny for numerous yards of the richly dyed fabric.  Seen mostly in evening wear, green gowns of various hues have been gracing ballrooms and tea rooms for decades.

So in honor of March, St. Patrick’s Day and the Emerald Isle, I hope you enjoy a few of my favorite green gowns!

~Aimee

 -To see gowns that didn’t make the final cut, check out my Pinterest Board.

March green inspiration



HSM: Foundations – Dimity Bustle

I have begun working on the January challenge of Foundations  for the Historical Sew Monthly.  It took me almost a week to actually decide on what I wanted to do, as I was going back and forth between a corset, or a caged crinoline, or a farthingale…..the list goes on.  I knew that one of the challenges I wanted to create this year was going to be a late 1870’s natural form, princess gown, so with that in mind, I decided to create a dimity bustle.  I did some research and found a workable example with which I could create my pattern.  I really wanted to create the entire look myself, so I was hesitant to see other people’s versions and patterns.  I have found it a very fun project so far and, if time allows, will hope to complete a petticoat as well before the February challenge begins.

Here is what I have so accomplished so far:

The inspiration photograph

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Here is a very rough diagram and sketch of the pattern I created….I know it’s a little hard to see.   The inside of the bustle can be seen in the upper left hand corner of the page on the right side.

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I created my 3 panel pieces and began stitching my boning channels with twill tape.  Each piece, the outer as well as the two inner pieces (I will explain those pieces in my next post), were doubled in thickness to add some weight to the white muslin.

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I did decide to go ahead and just directly attach the ruffles to the bottom of the bustle, even though the picture shows them as removable.

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I am hoping that I can complete the project this weekend without too many distractions…all though even now I am rushing to complete this post before friends come over for dinner! 🙂

Enjoy your weekend and have a Happy MLK Day!

 – Aimee


Sheer and Pleated…

This is such a stunning gown!  Probably created in the late 1850’s, I love the V-shaped pleating and the full airiness of the skirt.  Include a shawl and it is perfect!  I wish it was easier to find fabric that was patterned like this skirt though.  Hmmmm……

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