Civil War Era Fashion Chit Chat - April 1862 Peterson's Magazine
There have been but few new goods imported this season, economy being the order of the day. Old dresses are "made to look like new" as nearly as possible. Skirts worn out at the bottom are renewed or lengthened by a bias band, plaiting or ruffle, or silk of black or some color contrasting well with the dress. In this way two old dresses often make one stylish new one. Then antiquated bodies, or worn out bodies, are discarded, and jaunty Zouave jackets with white shirt bodies and sleeves, or Garibaldi shirts, take their place. As the season advances, pique or Marseilles will take the place of silk or flannel for these articles.
A very pretty dress may be arranged in the following way: A black silk skirt, either plain or trimmed, may be accompanied with a full body of white muslin, having bands of black velvet over the shoulder, crossed with the same in front in the form of a stomacher, and having a bow at the waist of the white muslin, wide, and with long ends, crossed with black velvet at the bottom.
Nothing new has as yet appeared in the way of trimming skirts. In fact, it would be almost impossible to have anything new in this respect, as such a variety of styles are already worn.
Dresses for evening wear are generally made with low-necked bodies, with points before and at the back, and with a fullness extending from the shoulders to the middle of the body. But bodies partially open, either square or in the heart shape are the most popular.
We have been asked to describe a dress suitable for a young lady. We give below one which is not very expensive, and can be modified according to the taste or purse of the wearer. We must premise that the combination of black and white is not at all confined to mourning, but, on the contrary, is one of the most fashionable of costumes. The dress of which we speak was composed of white tarlatane; the skirt ornamented with six narrow flounces at the bottom, each flounce trimmed with a row of tiny black velvet. The flounces were headed by a broad plaiting of tarlatane, trimmed at the top and bottom with black velvet. The low body was gathered, and cut square on the shoulders, also trimmed round with a plaiting, and finished off round the neck with a blonde tucker, having a narrow velvet run in it. A head-dress composed of black velvet and bunches of rose-buds, completed this simple but elegant toilet.
Should any of our readers feel inclined to make one of these dresses themselves, we would hint that tarlatane cannot be too little or too lightly handled, and therefore the flounces should be as quickly trimmed and put on as possible. To accomplish this, the flounces should be hemmed and the velvet put on at the same time, by turning the tarlatane once on the right side, and running the velvet on over the raw edge. In this manner the material need not be much tumbled.
Short coats hanging loosely will be very fashionable this season. They have a jaunty look, and have the advantage of taking much less material than those lately worn. Black silk shawls trimmed with lace, or silk ruffles will also be fashionable.
Bonnets have altered but little as yet in shape. A beautiful dress hat has just been made of white tulle, bound around the edge and cape with very light blue velvet, and trimmed across the top with a broad band of blue velvet. The white ribbon strings are also bound with velvet.
Kid gloves of light color, with one or two buttons, and embroidered in little squares at the back of the hand, are the most distingue.