Civil War Era Fashion Chit Chat - January 1865 Peterson's Magazine
An English correspondent says: "Three things in a lady's toilet are now considered necessary, and to appear without them is to appear unfashionable, and these three are - a small bonnet, a wide waistband, and a coat-shaped sleeve." If the coat basque is worn, the waistband is usually worn over it, but this is so ugly a fashion that we hope it will not last long. The belts are now from four to six inches in width, and, of course, the buckles are in proportion. Jet, gilt and jet, plain gilt, steel, and mother-of-pearl buckles are all worn; but the latter is only fashionable for evening wear.
Large buttons "are all the rage," the square mother-of-pearl ones being the handsomest, but jet, steel, and gilt are equally worn.
The back as well as the fronts of dresses are now opened and trimmed, as will be seen by our wood-cuts, but this necessitates great expense, as the under-dress should be of a corresponding quality with the upper one, without an old skirt can be used for the lower one. The trimming on the sleeves, the waistband, etc., should be of the color of the under-skirt.
Embroidery is profusely used on some dresses, and when this is mingled with jet beads it is particularly elegant. Lace insertion is, also, popular for silks, as well as gimp with jet. For woolen drawers silk braid is the most suitable trimming, and this is very convenient, as it can be disposed of in so many different ways.
Tunics are simulated by starting the trimming from each side of the waist, and letting it sweep off, gradually, toward the back, where it forms a trimming around the bottom of the skirt.
Sashes, for evening wear, are in great demand; but some, who are tired of the old fashion of fastening them at the back, now tie them at the side.
The petticoat is of as much importance, for out-of-door wear, as the dress itself, in these days of looped-up skirts. Of course, linsey, merino, cashmere, or any warm material is worn; but these are always, more or less, ornamented with grave or gay colors, according to the fancy of the wearer. Scarlet, trimmed with black, is popular, but so showy that, if many are worn, they will soon look comon. The most stylish ones are black silk, quilted in white of some pretty pattern by a sewing-machine.
The short paletot is probably the most fashionable, but just now almost any style of out-door covering can be worn and not look old. The sleeves ought always to be of the coat-shape, however. Circulars, with hoods, are still adhered to by many who think that drapery from the shoulders is more graceful than any other. The hood should be round, not pointed. For paletots, gimp epaulets and trimmings on the cuffs are necessary.
A very pretty evening dress has just come out in Paris. The material is blue taffetas covered with white gauze; the skirt has a pleating round the edge, and the bodice has seven basques at the waist, two in front, two at the sides, and three at the back. These are short in front, and increase materially in length as they turn toward the back, where they form a point in the center, and are finished off with a sky-blue silk tassel. These basques or straps (so narrow are they) are piped with blue taffetas. There are pointed epaulets at the tops of the sleeves, with a blue silk tassel depending from each point. The dresses for out-door wear are made in the same style, with five basques or tabs separated from each other. A single long basque all round the waist is also worn (exactly like the basques of the time of Charles I.); and above the basque an Empire waistband is added. As both scallops and vandykes are fashionable, these basques are frequently cut out round the edge in one of these forms, and a tassel is sewn to each point. Above the vandykes several rows of narrow ribbon-velvet are sewn vertically. This original style of bodice was worn first by the Empress Eugenie.
Bonnets are very small, as will be seen by looking at some of our wood-cut figures. What is called the Fanchon, or half-handkerchief bonnet, will be the popular form for the winter. The front alone will consist of velvet, plush, satin, or whatever material may be selected. Thus for a bonnet, with a front of black velvet, the crown would consist of a black lace half-handkerchief falling over a soft white tull one; a damask rose low upon the neck underneath the lace - black strings. With these small bonnets it is necessary to wear the hair very low in the neck. Drooping loops at the back are still the favorite style of the day; they are secured by small invisible nets of thin silk. In front, full bandeaux turned back from the face, or a number of rolls, one above the other, are worn; an attempt is also made to introduce the small curls falling over the forehead, without any parting in front.
Fur collars continue comparatively small. Some are pointed, and some rounded both at the back and front, but this is a matter of taste. Muffs are small; some are made of velvet, and trimmed around each side with a border of fur, or embroidery.
Head-dresses, for young ladies, consist of nets scattered over with gold, steel, coral, or jet beads. Flowers are placed on the hair in detached bunches, sometimes only a single rose being employed. Wreaths are no longer seen.