Family Stories

1860’s Civil War Dress

Scan_Pic1301 2The Civil War era is of great interest to many people.  Historically it was probably the most important time for our country since the American Revolution.  More people died during the war than all other wars we have fought.  Abraham Lincoln fought to save the union, and freed slaves, that act which so many other presidents left for another time.

Beside all these major contributions to history, the dress of women during this time period is one that is loved and cherished by many!  Who hasn’t thought of dressing in the romantic fashion of an off the shoulder dress, full hoops and fan?  Well, of you ladies, of course!  I have a parade of fashions to share with you through old photos I have purchased.

The photo above is of a serious young woman in a beautiful satiny dress with bishop sleeves, white collar and cuffs.  The waist is high, indicative of the early 1860’s, as is the very simple hair style – parted in the middle and pulled back to a knot at the back of the head.  This photo was taken by Haines and Wickes, 478 Broadway, Albany, New York.

Scan_Pic1304 3A true southern belle look, the off-should dress I mentioned, plus bonnet with ribbons.  Again, a high waist of the early years.  Photo taken by Beardsley Brothers, Ithaca, New York.  I suppose southern belles could be in New York, too!

Scan_Pic1303This woman and her dress are quite beautiful!  The shimmery material of the dress sports a small pattern.  The large bell sleeves show the white under-sleeves to perfection.  The woman’s hairstyle is a bit fancier than the first two photos.  No photographer listed.

Scan_Pic1299 2This woman wears a bolero jacket – quiet fashionable at the time.  Her dress is a bit unusual with the buttons coming down on both sides of the waist – which makes the dress extremely full in front – perhaps she is expecting?  Photo taken by William M. Scott, LaPorte, Indiana.

Scan_Pic1302 2This is my favorite of tonight’s photos!  I would love to have this dress!  The material is shimmery, the skirt is so very full, and the sleeves are amazing!  The bell sleeves are huge, and the amount of lace on the under sleeves is more than I have ever seen!  The hairstyle is simple, but with such a dress nothing fancy is needed!

Scan_Pic1300 2The last two dresses are more ornate, and are probably from the latter years of the decade.  This dress even has a hint of blue on the trim.  The ruffle at the bottom of the dress just adds to the overall attractiveness of the outfit.

Scan_Pic1306The back of this photo bears a 2 cents tax stamp.  Photo was taken by M. Harner and Company, Naperville, Illinois.

Scan_Pic1298 2This last photo is of a beautiful dress, adorned with a lot of trim.  The over-sleeves are not as large, but are short enough to give a good view of the under-sleeves.

Scan_Pic1305This also has a tax stamp on back – a blue two cent.  E. H. Alley was the photographer, but the stamp hides where the photo was taken.  I didn’t have the heart to remove it – if it has been there for roughly 150 years I think it should remain there!  It looks like the name Etta has been written on the stamp – perhaps this woman’s name?

I hope you’ve enjoyed the parade of fashions from the 1860’s.  Always nice to go back in time for a bit!


4 replies »

  1. Thank you for another delightful glimpse into life and fashion in another time.. Marilyn

  2. I love receiving your posts! I learn something new every time I read one. I would like to ask a favor. May I please have your permission to copy and distribute the information in this post about the 860’s fashion, in my United Daughters of the Confederacy, Tampa Chapter 113 newsletter? I think the ladies would enjoy seeing your photos and reading your commentary. If you allow it, just please let me know exactly how you would like for me to give your credit for the research, etc. Thank you very much and I look forward to your next post!

    Strength and honor through UDC service, Pat Calafell, President Tampa Chapter 113 (813)484-4347

    “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” – Voltaire

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