Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Relaxing Victorians: Casual Wear From Unseen to Seen to Seen by Only a Few ~ Wrappers & Peignoirs & Dressing Gowns to Morning Dresses & Tea Gowns to Lingerie from Gail Carriger


One of the things the Victorian era saw, Fashionable Reader, was an exploration of that liminal space through casual around the house wear.

Wrapper 1855  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Here we have the wrapper that was only meant to be seen by family.

Dressing Gown  early 1870s The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Dressing Gown  1875  The Kyoto Costume Institute

 Dressing gowns, banyans and wrappers are often quilted all or in part.

Wrapper early 1860s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

One of the signs of a wrapper is that the waist is designed to be loose or tied tight. Often they split up the front, like a carriage dress or a robe so they can be pulled over a nightgown or underpinnings, like a dressing down but slightly more tailored. Still NOT designed to be worn over a corset.


Peignoir 1860-1865  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Peignoir  1880s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 Peignoir seems to be a catch all term.

Morning Dress  1860  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Morning dresses were initially gowns for the breakfast table that did not require a corset.They're characterize by a looser top lots of details in the neck and sleeves.

Morning Dress  1872-1873  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

One of the things we see evolving (and limits being tested) after the 1950s through the 1900s is the idea of what was not meant to be seen (undergarments and nightgowns) to what was initially only meant to be seen by family or lovers (wrappers & peignoirs) to receiving casual around house guests at breakfast (morning dresses) to I'm comfortable at home and I want to show my wealth with yet another space & occasion specific outfit (the tea gown).

Tea Gown  late 1870s  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Tea gowns were an evolution of the morning gown.

Tea Gown  1875  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tea Gown  1875-1880  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1Harpers Bazar New York Sat June 13 1891 Dressing Gowns Nightshirts

This evolution is coupled with the rise of the middle class, the sexual revolution (including contraception and woman's suffrage) and various other factors.

Bed Jacket  1885  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dressing Jacket  1885-1890  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 We see a culmination in this towards the turn of the century in the popularity of (and wide-scale use of the word) negligées and lingerie sets, which specifically implies an article of clothing that is sexual in its nature for it is meant to be seen by a lover.

Negligée  1880  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This kind of clothing, prior to the first sexual revolution, would not have been acceptable for a fashion house to make, let alone a fashionable lady to purchase.

Negligée Callot Soeurs, 1898-1900s The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Lingerie Set  1880s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

There was also head wear that was designed to be worn exclusively around the house, but that's a whole other story...

House Cap 1900  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

For Primrose!

Boudoir Cap 1895 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

nightgown 1894  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dressing Gown  1897-1899  The Metropolitan Museum of Art


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