Civil War Era Fashion Chit Chat - May 1860 Peterson's Magazine
Gray silks seem to be the favorites for out-of-doors wear this spring, or a minute plaid of black and white, which has the effect of gray. One of our fashionable dress-makers had thirty-five gray silks at one time in the house to be made up. This color is always quiet and lady-like, so will always be popular. Still for those who fancy brighter hues, there are the various shades of lilacs, blues, and greens, of most exquisite tints. The lawns and organdies that are not flounced are mostly in stripes with large figures. Grenadines and bareges, on the contrary, if not flounced, have rather small figures.
Small ruffles or flounces are very much in favor, though some have only four or five narrow ruffles at the bottom of the skirt. A few dresses have double skirts, the lower one being ruffles, and the upper skirt reaching to the top ruffle.
Sleeves continue to be made quite large, with but little trimming, especially in silk dresses.
The Robe Imperatrice, or Polonaise, as it is now sometimes called, and of which we gave a plate earlier in the season, is very popular with our fashionable dress-makers. The body and skirt of this dress are cut in one piece, like a very deep basque. For those who may like a quieter style, bodies with sharp points behind and in front are being made. Although, as a general thing, all skirts are put on in very large, hollow plaits; still some few of the new dresses have the skirts gathered on around the points, quite in the old style.
Gored Skirts are almost entirely worn. This kind of skirt is very graceful, as it throws the fullness to the back, and prevents the great bunches on the hips, which a very full skirt necessarily has. A gored skirt is usually four and a half to five yards wide at bottom, and about three yards at the top. The new hoop skirts are made in a bell shape to suit dresses cut in this style.
Trimmings for dresses are various. The newest, and one of the most popular, being a kind of rosette, having a silk button of the color of the dress which it is to trim, in the centre, and a row of black around it. Then there is a flat, plaited cord, and various ribbon trimmings.
Mantillas of lace are made quite large; usually of a scarf shape on the shoulders, with a very wide fall of lace below. Many of the silk mantillas are made in this way, but not quite so large. The pelerine shape is, perhaps, the newest, with square, round, or pointed ends falling over the arms. Some few have hoods, but these are not so universal as they were last summer.
Bonnets are still made large, but stand far up from the head. The shape is neither pretty nor becoming to most faces. The real French bonnets are modified in this respect, as they do not stand so far up from the top of the head. In fact, a French woman always studies what is becoming, and not what is "the rage." At an opening of French millinery, the other day, we noticed that all the bonnets were trimmed with flowers only on one side, usually the left side, whilst the other was left entirely untrimmed. The effect was very stylish. The flowers were not put on in a bunch near the top of the bonnet, as was so fashionable during the winter, but run in sprays and clusters from the top of the bonnet down the whole side. Some bonnets are trimmed with only a rich, wide ribbon passed over the top. Ribbons come purposely for this style of trimming, embroidered on the top and at each end. Bonnets made of silk have large, soft crowns, and small capes.