The Finishing School books go from 1851 ~ 1854, Fashionable Reader. The silhouette itself remained basically unchanged throughout this time period. It wasn't until the cage crinoline was introduced, after the final Finishing School book, that things moved quickly into new avenues. I thought you might like to see a sample of 1850s dresses before Manners & Mutiny releases into the aether.
|1850 The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
The tucked front and elaborate ruching was a hallmark of earlier dresses from the 1840s. As the period wore on, the front became smoother and shawl collars more popular, like so...
|1850-1853 Musée Galliera de la Mode de la Ville de Paris|
The sloped shoulder remained popular throughout this time period. Broad shoulders on women were considered unsightly, possibly because they were a mark of physical fitness and manual labor.
|Day Dress 1850s The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston|
That said, pagoda sleeves remained relatively popular, as the inverted triangle shape of the bodice, width of the sleeve and width of the dress all were thought to give the illusion of a smaller waist.
|1852-1854 The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
One of the reasons I chose this time period is that this style of dress is ideal for hidden skirt pockets full of stuff, not to mention devices up sleeves. There are ways to adapt these ridiculous dresses to espionage that fall away as the Victorian Era progresses.
|1850 Waistcoat 1850s The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston|
Very very Sophronia...
|via steampunksteampunk tumblr|
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