Friday, November 16, 2012

Fashionable Friday - Civil War Era Couple - Early 1860's CDV

Unidentified 1862-63 Couple
This Cartes de Visite (CDV) of an unidentified couple is an excellent example of early 1860's clothing.  Her military-style dress with hoop skirt and pagoda sleeves was so typical of the times and is quite lovely.  I particularly like the trim on the sleeves and at the waist as well as the buttons on the bodice. According to Wikipedia, after about 1862 morning dresses featured wide pagoda sleeves worn over undersleeves  or engageantes.  High necklines with lace or tatted collars or chemisettes completed the demure daytime look.  See illustration below show similar pagoda style sleeves.

In America, the early years of the Civil War also saw increased popularity of military-influenced styles in women's clothing.  Note her hair which is parted in the middle and drawn back at her nape into a bun.  Such styling was usually maintained by the use of hair oils and pomades.  Styled hair was often confined in decorated hairnets called snoods.  These hairnets were often edged with ruchings of ribbon that adorned the crown of the head such as the one this subject appears to be wearing.

Her husband, who appears to be a bit older than is wife, is wearing a ditto suit which came into fashion in the mid-nineteenth century and would become the dominant form of Western men's dress clothing for the next century.  The suit, consisting of jacket, vest and trousers was made of the same fabric and was characterized by the loose fitting jacket which hung straight from the shoulders. The ready-to-wear suit was a fairly informal type of clothing and became very popular after the "Beau Brummell" period of men's clothing in the early 1800's sometimes called the era of dandies.

I believe this photo to have been taken approximately 1862 - 1863.

Godey's April 1861

Fashion Enclyclopedia:  


  1. A terrific period photo with a magnificent dress. Not to be voyeur but I wish we could see how her under structure was engineered.

  2. I wouldn't have noticed the military aspect of the dress if you hadn't mention it. Very peculiar, I never saw (or noticed) it before.

  3. Hey, Nice Blog you have here! Keep up the excellent work! Civil War Clothing

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