Family Stories

Pompadour Port-Jupe – Fashion of the 1860’s

Scan_Pic1271 2Fashion statement of the early 1860’s! 

How extraordinary to find a photo of this unusual fashion of the early 1860’s!  This was included in a group of photos I purchased on Ebay.  Generally for the Civil War period we think of huge hoops, enormous skirts that sweep the floor and large fans for flirting!  But the custom of looping dresses, pulling the outer skirts up – or down – at intervals, kept the bottom of the dress from getting soiled during inclement weather.  How many thought it risque to show even a bit of a boot?  Godey’s Lady’s Book was alternately known as a magazine and a book.  Although begun in the 1840’s, by the 1860’s Godey’s was the magazine that all ladies waited for!  Publication ceased in 1898.

From Dressed for the Photographer by Joan Severa (my go to book for old photos!) – “Another innovation of the early sixties was noted in Godey’s in August 1865:  ‘the custom of looping dresses has now become universal.’  A variety of methods were used to pull up the outer skirts at intervals, mostly involving cords on the inside of the skirt.  In May of 1864, Godey’s carried a description and a drawing of ‘The Pompadour Port-Jupe’: an arrangement of eight cords hung from a belt worn over the hoop and petticoats; the cords were attached at the bottom end to points near the inside hem of the dress skirt and by loops spaced up the skirt to the waist.  The free ends, four on either side, were drawn through the eyelets to the outside of the waistband where they were held together by knots.  When the skirt was drawn up, the two clusters of cords were pulled out and tied together in a bow at the waist.  This custom, ostensibly originating in the need to keep walking-dress skirts from touching the street, developed into a fashion fad, with the underskirt keeping pace with design embellishments:  ‘As the dress for the street is generally looped up, it is necessary that the jupon [underskirt] be prettily ornamented.  Buff, nankeen, gray, and violet are some of the favorite colors, and jean and reps favorite materials, both it is said washing well.  With us the black and white striped petticoats, with a brilliant bordering, are very fashionable for traveling and ordinary wear’ (Godey’s September 1863).

The following is a page from Godey’s from the July-December 1862 issue:

image of page 11


1 reply »

Leave a Reply