Renee Ryan here, ready to share more research I’ve uncovered while working on my latest Charity House novel. The book is set in 1896 and despite how much I’d rather dig into the story I must dress my heroine. She is a fashionable woman of her time, so it’s important I get her clothing right.
Fashionable styles of the 1890s finally (and I do mean FINALLY) shed the excesses of previous decades. Crinolines were out, as were protruding bustles in the back. Unfortunately (and I do mean UNFORTUNATELY) corseting continued. Early dresses in the 1890s consisted of very tight bodices. The skirts were gathered at the waist and fell more naturally over the hips. By the mid-1890s leg o’mutton sleeves made their entrance, but by the late 1890s tighter sleeves returned with small ruffles capping the shoulders. Skirts took on an A-line silhouette.
Sportswear became popular in the 1890s due to changing attitudes about acceptable activities for women. The shirtwaist dress that included a bodice tailored like a man’s shirt was adopted for informal wear and became the uniform for working women.
Afternoon dresses had high necks, wasp waists, puffed sleeves and bell-shaped skirts. Evening gowns sported a square decolletage and skirts with long trim.
In short, the 1890s introduced unfussy, tailored women’s clothing. The key element was simplicity, well…at least simplicity in terms of pervious decades of the nineteenth century.
My next blog will include hairstyles, headgear (aka hats) and shoes. In the meantime, leave a comment and you’ll be included in a drawing to win Mistaken Bride, a book in my backlist with a most beautiful dress.