Fashion 1880-1890
The "Panier" 1888, 1889 Tailor-made Costume End of the 'Eighties

The "Panier"

In 1881 a distinctly new mode made its appearance, and was destined to last not only for nearly ten years, but also to usurp the place in public favour previously occupied by the crinoline. This new fashion was known as the "panier." It really consisted of two modes in one, for with it went an indispensable adjunct called the "bustle." The "bustle," would tax the ingenuity of a mere man aptly to describe its mysterious configuration, or the odds and ends which, so it is said, were pressed into service to fill it out to the desired extent. But to sum up, the "panier" looked nothing without a "bustle," and the "bustle" without the "panier" could not be worn -- hence their partnership, as it were.

The new style was adopted by high and low, till at last, as may be imagined, the most grotesque proportions and shapes were given to the feminine silhouette. With the "panier" one notes that a different line was requisite for the figure -- a sort of counterbalance, as it were, to the "bustle" is necessary; so the corsets were more cambre, in order to throw the bust forward. Long jackets cut en queue de mome, made of the same material as the skirt, or of broche or other velvet; very tight and long sleeves finished at the cuff with a white frill; and a stiff white collar and tie completed the smart walking-costume; whilst still further to emphasise the drastic change in fashion the hair was no longer worn a la Anglaise, but high on the head, with a fringe which now makes its first appearance.

With the advent of the "panier" and its rapturous reception not only by the fashionable world but by the feminine element generally, a new stage was reached, and a halt was called, which allowed time for the elaboration of the details wanting in the first scheme. Spots, stripes, various passementerie, lace of every description -- Valenciennes, Mechlin, Alencon, Brussels, Chantilly, also English lace from Honiton, Devonshire -- were all used to enrich the fashion during the next few years. The balayeuse, a heavy flounce of white lace fastened under the hem of the skirt, was a distinct improvement. It could be easily renovated, improvement and formed an effective if somewhat extraordinary finish. Then the waist-line was increased considerably in length and terminated en pointe both at the back and front. Stiff plastrons, gilets bouffants of various colours, and lace-trimmed revers helped to give variety if not always beauty. Hats of different shapes, but unusually high in form, went with the various costumes. We see the Amazone, Niniche, genre Chapelier, made in English straw with velvet cocarde or aigrette or feathers. Amongst others bonnets appeared again, but they were of a peculiar shape, and were worn with strings which were tied sometimes under the chin, at other times under the ear. Short mantles, known as "visites," much ornamented with laces and ribbons, were very much in vogue in different colours from the skirt. Very pointed button boots were much worn in the 'eighties.

The evening dresses were often extremely elegant if one avoids noticing the inevitable "bustle." The skirts, puffed and decorated with a long square train independent of the skirt; the bodice "decollete," V-shape, with much lace on it; long kid gloves, couleur suede, scalloped along the edge; shoes with bows to match the dress, -- all combined to accentuate the characteristics ol the tout ensemble. Hair-dressing was most elaborate and high on the head, finishing with one large, long curl down the back of the neck. A collier of diamonds and much other jewellery completed the effect. This conveys a fair idea of the toilette of an elegante for a ball or reception in 1886. »   Back To Content

1888, 1889

In 1888 we have the first indication of a coming change in the shape of the sleeves; the shoulders were slightly higher and fuller. There were also signs of another modification, namely, the sure decline of the " panier," although the hideous "bustle" was still going strong. The evening dresses were, if anything, still more attractive; the decollete was cut "en coeur," which was slightly less severe than the V. The hair was still dressed high and finished with a small aigrette or diamond crescent, whilst a diamond-studded velvet band round the neck replaced advantageously the vulgar collier. Fans were still large, but were less obtrusive in shape.

In 1889, the year of the Exhibition, the most noticeable change in the fashion was in the shape of the sleeves, which showed unmistakable signs, in fact some had already a distinct tendency to a return to the "leg of mutton" shape. »   Back To Content

The tailor-made costume

The tailor-made costume had begun in 1888 to make steps towards an elegance of line and finish which was somewhat unexpected. Ladies' tailors were now to be found in increasing numbers, fully proving that, with the bicycle, other outdoor sports were also claiming the attention of the fair sex, and thereby necessitating special costumes. For morning wear, men's tweeds and cheviots were the correct thing, even on occasions where more dressy costumes would have, a few years previously, been de rigueur [required by etiquette or current fashion]. With this practical costume many of the smart women would carry out the male effect to the extent of wearing a shirt of masculine appearance, with stiff collar and tie. The effect was unwomanly and calculated to impart a hard, sporting appearance to an otherwise gentle, ladylike demeanour; it had, however, a considerable and popular vogue for some years, and long after it had been abandoned by the leaders of fashion, till it was ousted by the "jabot " [an ornamental frill or ruffle on the front of a shirt or blouse, typically made of lace] and the more distinctive feminine embellishments of lingerie. »   Back To Content

For the next few years the shape of sleeves appears to have monopolised the attention of the grandes couturières, as we find many varieties put forward in the attempt to still arrive at something definite in style The manche à gigot still maintained its place in favour, alternating between London, small and large, and eventually ending by becoming abnormally big when it was on the eve of going out of fashion altogether. In the endeavour to produce original effects the result was frequently grotesque, as is seen in the style of 1890, when it was the fashion to wear sleeves of quite a different material and colour from the rest of the garment. For instance, a navy blue cloth costume would have sleeves of old rose colour velvet with black embroidery, long revers, and a "Medici effet" collar. Can anything more barbaric in taste be imagined? Much jet passementerie [decorative trimming such as tassels, braid, and fringing, used on furniture and clothing (e.g. military uniforms)] on coloured cloth was the fashion, together with applique lace-work and brandebourgs. [The frog is a * passement shaped knot, especially on dolmans or uniforms of officers. The word comes from the German town of Brandenburg.] [*an ornamental braid or decorative trimming resembling lace and made of gold, silver, or silk threads; passement is an early French word for lace] »   Back To Content

End of the 'eighties

Towards the end of the 'eighties there were signs of a reaction after the fashion which had been in vogue for so many years. The contour of the body was beginning to be indicated with more grace. Walking-dresses, panelled at the side with passementerie and other ornamentation, were characteristic of these years. Hats remained small and extremely inelegant; bonnets were still worse with their wide strings. The hair-dressing was remarkable, and reminds one somewhat of the Marie Antoinette period, its height being increased by an arrangement of tall bows or flowers. The characteristic of the hair-dressing, like that of the hats and bonnets, was that everything should be en pointe, with noticeable absence of breadth. Evening dress became much more extravagant than in previous years. A new transparent material called "grenadine" was introduced, and very beautiful effects were produced by draping it over satin gowns and trains. Sleeves of the decollete bodices had quite disappeared; only three strings of beads or a ribbon were deemed sufficient to satisfy the claims of decency. »   Back To Content

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Fashion 1880-1889

End of Fashion - 1880-1890

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