Civil War Era Fashion Chit Chat - October 1865 Peterson's Magazine
General Remarks -
There is nothing new in the materials for dress goods and plaids; stripes and small brocaded flowers on heavy silks, are all worn; whilst the plain silk is equally fashionable, and if of good quality, probably the most elegant of any. Shot, or changeable silks, have been popular during the summer, and they are very beautiful. Skirts are still very much gored, and for the house very long. Walking dresses are invariably looped up over pretty petticoats. In Paris, a few of the fashionable women have worn the dress skirts quite plain and short, like those of young girls of fourteen years of age. This is sensible, but not so pretty, we think, as the looped skirts, though much money may be saved in this way, as the ribbon, gimp, etc., used for raising the dress is often a considerable item in the mantua-maker's bill.
For evening dresses, gold cord and gold braid are again in vogue. White silk fringe is also employed on tulle dresses with a most charming effect.
Silk dresses are either very much trimmed, or else quite plain. A small quantity of ornament now looks meagre; but a very full skirt, with a long train without any ornament, is quite elegant, especially if finished with a heavy silk cord around the bottom.
Belts or waistbands are not so preposterously wide as formerly, and are consequently much more becoming.
Coat bodies are still worn, and are of every style, but we suppose will soon give place to the basque waist, so much worn some years ago. In fact, many of the new dresses are already made so, but they are not very general as yet.
Sleeves are quite close to the arm, and only large enough to admit the hand through at the lower part where the linen cuff shows.
Casaque, or deep basques, are the most worn for out-door wraps. Some are quite tigt to the figure, others nearly so. They are trimmed in a great variety of ways. One item is to be particularly observed with regard to casaques; they are now invariably worn without any epaulet - the upper part of the sleeve is completely divested of all trimming.
The empire bonnet is by no means general as yet, though one or two which we have seen are less ugly, when on the head, than we expected to find them. These, however, were not strictly Empire bonnets, only rather pretty modifications of them.
Necklets and dog-collars are still very much worn. As we have before said, these are composed of black velvet, either very narrow, or about half an inch in width, tied quite close about the throat, with a double bow, having four loops, and the ends of this bow fall almost as low as the skirt. These long ends appear to be now indispensable to a fashionable toilet. A locket or gold cross are worn on this velvet, though sometimes large pearl beads are sewn upon it.
On shoes, large steel, pearl, and jet buckles are worn in loops of ribbon.
In hair-dressing, particularly, change is undoubtedly a necessary element in feminine arrangements. The style known as La Chinoise, and which has been so long abandoned, is just now the rage with the ladies of fashion; and La Chinoise is ornamented in two manners - by placing at the top a thick tress, which joins a large cluster of ringlets at the back of the head; or, by arranging fringe of the very tiniest curls at the edge of La Chinoise, consequently around the forehead. A cluster of light ringlets at the back then harmonizes well with the front hair. Occasionally both plait and tiny curls are worn in front, and then the two styles are mixed, which, in our opinion, causes a superfluity of ornament.
Another style of arranging the hair, and a very popular one among youthful married ladies, is with waved bands fastened very close round the head; it is quite Greek in effect, especially as the hair is sometimes carried above the ear. Very pretty head-dresses, called Tachel bandelets, are sold for wearing with these bands. The bandelets are made of ribbon-velvet, about a finger's width in breadth, and they (the bandelets) terminate with a bow and long floating ends at the back. They are studded with either silver or very brilliant stars, or else they are embroidered with pearls or straw. With the latter, ears of corn are worked most ingeniously upon light blue velvet, and bees upon groseille velvet. Small balls of straw are sewn all round the nets which inclose the back hair. Nets are worn with these bandelets; and the round net, which is so useful in the country and at the sea-side, is very far from being cast aside.
The nets for evening wear are made either of invisible silk or of hair. Neither of these materials conceals the beauty of the hair; a coronet of velvet, on a twisted roll of fancy straw, is fastened to the net and worn at the top of the forehead. For young girls, these coronets are composed of loops of ribbon - velvet, or silk, according the the taste - as these are more youthful-looking than the heavier coronets. Aureoles of small rosettes made of narrow black ribbon velvet, edged with white, are also much worn with nets made of the same ribbon. Mauve nets are composed likewise in this way, and are very popular.
Another new fashion has been introduced in Paris. It is that of the long tulle veil plainly hemmed at the edge, which begins to take the place of that small mask, which of late years has been spread lightly over the face, and tucked in at the sides of the bonnet.