December 24, 2010

Dressing for Christmas and New Year, in 1880

Let me try and get into the right mood for this post. I didn't have many Christmas preparations so far, but today I've been baking all afternoon and I fear my fruit loaf has burned...

I think I have already explained why I'm not sewing a party dress for the holidays. You know, notoriously casual-minded country, family who don't 'do' dressing up if it can, in any way, be avoided, the need to be able to ride a bicycle etc. etc.

But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy party dresses. And wish everyone just finishing one today the best of luck wearing it.

In the vintage sewing magazine series, I went looking back a bit further than last week. Turning once again to the pages of the 1880's publication Gracieuse.
I thought I would show some dresses recommended for Christmas parties back then. However, Gracieuse was a Dutch magazine and I guess that, in the 19th century, Christmas was, at least in these parts, still very much a religious holiday. The magazine appeared twice a month and in what might have been the Christmas issue (the second one for December) there is nothing christmas-y at all. In fact, that issue has two wedding gowns, some coats and several dark dresses for church.
The fist issue for December has these dresses, for girls. They seem to be having fun and their dresses are looking rather festive, althought the text doesn't mention that. However, this being the Netherlands, it might be that the girls are celebrating Sinterklaas (the annual present-giving feast here, mostly aimed at children and held on the 5th of December. It was certainly already celebrated in the 19th century), rather than Christmas.

The first magazine for Januari however, opens with ball gowns. Aren't they splendid? Apperently, New Year's parties stretching well into Januari were already very much 'en vogue'.
I think the middle dress in the magazine is quite similar in style to this one, from the collection of the Victoria and Albert museum in London, which was dated (approximately) to the same year.

Happy Christmas, everyone!