Late Victorian Lace Tea Dress

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This is a breathtaking mesh and lace tea gown from the early 20th century, most likely made between 1908 and 1912. During this part of the Edwardian era, the extreme S-bend corset of the turn of the century was slowly morphing in shape and moving towards the straighter longline corset of "Titanic" fame. This dress shows more of the latter shaping, without the wasp waist of the earlier styles, but it retains the yoked shoulders and high neck popular in the first decade of the century. Combined with these elements is the full, frothy skirt, which became abruptly unfashionable in 1912 before returning in 1915 (at which point it no longer reached the floor, but revealed the ankles and part of the shins), as well as the particular flat front panel in the skirt, which may be seen frequently in advertisements and patterns around 1909-11. This gown is a confection of lace and mesh, all worked in silk. Machine lace was a fairly new technology, popularized in the last decade of the 19th century, and it ballooned in popularity during the Edwardian period due to its unprecidented symmetry and precision. This gown is made with several different, distinct patterns: a polka-dotted mesh, stripes of lattice, large floral rosettes, a dotted lattice, and wide strips of a more complex chain design. Each of these has been connected together in a complicated and symmetrical geometric pattern, with a great deal of forethought put into flattering the lines of the body. Although the garment looks airy and comfortable, it would have been worn over combinations (chemise and drawers), a corset with attached garters, stockings, a chemisette or corset cover, possibly a ruffled bust improver, and at least one petticoat! All of these layers would have taken the strain of the moving body in order to protect the delicate lace from tearing, and would also have protected the silk from yellowing due to sweat and bodily oils. Thus, this gown has been beautifully preserved and cared for, and will make a stunning addition to any collection.
Dripping in lace and net details this dress leaves no disappointment when it comes to beautiful details. Made from numerous rows of lace and cotton net with just the right amount of small ruffles here and there. The wide band of lace by the knees is figured for a silk ribbon to run through it if you wanted some added color as they did in those days. Today it makes for a fantastic wedding dress.
Place of Origin
United States
Late 19th Century
Excellent. Dress is an antique and is over 100 years old, please keep this in mind regarding condition. Has been fully laundered and detailed, ready for wear. .
Wear consistent with age and use
56 in. L
142 cm L
Marked Size
00 (US)
29 in. (74 cm)
24 in. (61 cm)
30 in. (76 cm)
56 in. (142 cm)
Dealer Location
New York, NY
Number of Items
Reference Number
260 West 36th Street
Suite 201
New York NY 10018
(646) 846-8372
1stdibs Dealer since 2015 Located in New York, NY
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