This mid-1850s ambrotype is filled will details. From her lace mantel to her white work collar, a lot of hard work and skill went into her ensemble. Most of these items were probably purchased rather than homemade. Popular from late 1856 through 1858, this style of bonnet creates a tiny halo around the face with its full cap of netting. One noticeable detail from the photograph is the curtain. Fabric doesn't lay like that by itself without support. Many extant bonnets have a wire at the bottom of the bavolet. The wire allows the bavolet to flare and stand out from the bonnet rather than lay limp. One more simple detail that we should be adding to our reproductions to more closely create the look of the fashion plates and photographs of the mid-19th century.
American fashion plates? Unthinkable.
Many American living historians look to fashion plates to help interpret the clothing of the 19th century, but before the late 1820s and early 1830s only European fashion plates existed. Although Americans did closely follow European styles, there is an entire ocean between the United States and Europe and a unique American identity. The Ladies’ Magazine and Literary Gazette and The Lady’s Book introduced American fashion engravings to their publications in the early 1830s. Many people do not realize that the two were separate publications before Louis Godey purchased The Ladies’ Magazine. The combination of the two magazines would later become Godey’s Lady’s Book, the most widely read ladies’ publication in the 19th century. The early fashion plates in both magazines were not numerous, often poor quality, and lacking descriptions, but they are American.
Our new fashion plate book for 1830-34 is now available for digital download.
Many living historians talk about women dressing their age. Others insist society pressured women to dress to the norm. Others feel women purchased the fashions they could afford. There were probably all three types of women just as there are today. I do not find a lot of older women in outdated styles in photographic evidence. This older lady definitely fell in the last category. She is dressed to the nines including her bonnet. This extremely fashionable style of bonnet peaked in the fashion plates in the first half of 1864. Towering above the forehead and narrow at the cheek, this particular high brim bonnet ushered in the end of the popular spoon shaped style. By the second half of 1864 and the first half of 1865, the fashion plates began to show more conservative styles sitting closer to the head.
Vintage flowers don't go bad, but there is a limited supply. We do what we can to continue to bring you what we can find. Sales have been slow with most events cancelled, but we are still plugging along and building up inventory of these hard to find gems. If you like yellow or orange, you are really in luck. A lot of these flowers come in limited color choices, but I can always find yellow and orange. My favorites are usually from the German Democratic Republic or Czechoslovakia. Both of these countries haven't been around since the early 1990s. The 1990s don't seem like a long time ago to me. I graduated from high school then. Alas, I am vintage and so are these flowers.
A conveniently placed mirror in this fashion plate gives us a front an back view of this popular style of headpiece seen in the late 1830s and early 1840s. Engravers often used this technique to allow viewers to see different angles of a garment. The headpiece in question appears like a bun shaper that has been cut to lay straight, and placed oddly on the top of the head. I have always found this style odd, but they pop up in many fashion plates. The idea of it being velvet increases its appeal and the cap at the back to cover a small chignon makes it a useful addition to a fancy early Victorian impression.
The Court Magazine & Monthly Critic and Lady’s Magazine, a Museum of the Belles Lettres, Music, Fine Arts, Drama, Fashions, &c.
Description of the Fashion Plates in the Present Number.
[Having found that many of our Subscribers have been desirous of having a greater Number and greater Variety of Fashion Plates than we can possibly give in this Work, we beg to inform our Readers generally, that there are eighty-four Plates and upwards of the same description published by us annually in Paris (from which, monthly, we select two of the most novel and seasonable for the use of the Court Magazine), and that the same can be obtained from Mr. Dobbs, our publisher, at No. 11. Carey Street, or by the Order of any Bookseller in England, Scotland, or Ireland, viz., for three months, 12s.; for a year, ?2, in advance, as customary in France.
No. 2. – Dinner and Evening Dresses. – First figure. Dress of organdi (book muslin), embroidered in coloured worsteds; corsage en pointé and a la Sevigné with folded draperies across the bosom; the sleeves excessively short and full, but without trimming (see plate). Hair turned back entirely off the brow in the Chinese fashion, the back dressed low, in a rouleau with one small bow of hair in the centre (see plate); the wreath of roses is put on a la vestale. Long gold earrings; white kid gloves ornamented at the tops with a puffing of gauze. A bow of pink satin ribbon with long ends is placed at the point of the corsage. White silk stockings; black satin shoes.
Second figure. – Dress of striped gauze, with a very deep flounce at bottom. Châle manteau or mantelet, of black satin; this shawl is rounded at back in the style of the mantelet Châles we have so frequently described; the front ends are long and finished by thick tassels. This shawl has likewise the useful accessory of a large hood, which can be drawn over the head at pleasure. It is lined with white silk and wadded. Coiffure a la Berthe. This is the most fashionable style of coiffure at present adopted in Paris. The one on the figure on our plate, is composed of black velvet, and consists merely of a narrow head-piece, deep enough to admit of its turning up in a roll in front (see plate); a deep fall of black lace is put on at the edge (bord) and hangs low at the sides, forming a kind of oreillettes. A bouquet of flowers is placed at each side. Three gold-headed pins are stuck into the roll at the left side (see plate); the front hair is in braids en fer à cheval, the back in a single braid en rouleau. Half long black silk mittens; bracelets, worn high up on the arm. Antique fan; white satin shoes.
As a student of 19th century millinery, I do my best to make historical reproductions. When a customer purchases a Timely Tresses bonnet, they don't have to question the research. They know that it is true to the shapes and techniques of the desired era of interpretation. There are many milliners who don't mind hot gluing the flowers to their bonnets, cutting up straw hats from a thrift store, or trimming imported straw blanks that are just not the right shape, but I am just not one of them. I don't wish to put those milliners down. I am glad they have success in business. It is just not the right path for me. I have had to get over some things. Many period materials, like willow, are just no longer available. I carry the best the supplies commercially available, many of them vintage, to encourage folks to make more authentic bonnets. Constant examination and collection of extant bonnets, antique photographs, and fashion plates improves my product with little details like crossbands to take bonnets one step closer to the real deal. Authenticity brings me joy and that is what I choose for my business.
When I look at wet plate photographs, the first thing I notice is the bonnet. Shocker right? Sometimes, that means I end up with pictures where, let us say, the bonnet outshines the wearer. In this mid to late 1850s 9th plate ruby Ambrotype, the young woman's beauty definitely does justice to her bonnet. Most of my photographs show solid colored backgrounds, but some feature decorative backdrops. I especially love the little sailboat on the lake. Just today, I noticed that there appears to be a little flag on top of the mountain. Decorative backgrounds can help identify the photograph and give further information about the photograph like location and specific dates. Unfortunately, I haven't been so lucky with mine, so I guess I better get back to research!
When ever a new costume drama comes out, my friends and family call or text to see what I thought of the costuming. For the most part, I either have too much to say and the questioner glazes over or I just say it is a theatrical interpretation and move on to something else. A issue for me with costuming in film is that I inevitably have a customer who wants to look just like that character. Part of our mission at Timely Tresses is historical accuracy. How can I in good conscience dress a customer in a bonnet that is 20 years out of date to the impression or that is just a fanciful creation of a costume designer? Even when movies get the dresses right, the bonnets are usually terrible. I have started many times to review the millinery in a movie or series and ended up with a passage far too long to post. I have decided addressing one bonnet at a time is a far more manageable task.
When I think of bonnets in the movies that really impress me, this bonnet from the 2011 adaptation of Jane Eyre always comes to mind. The shape is appropriate to the late 1830s and early 1840s. The brim flares neatly around the wearer's face. The curtain is an appropriate length. The crown goes strait back rather than earlier raised crowns. The tip (the tiny circle at the back of the crown) is sort of weird. Unlike the rounded blocked tip of most 19th century bonnets, It is super flat and the one thing that is strange about this bonnet. The rest of the bonnet is so phenomenal that I choose to ignore the tip.
Finally, the straw . . . . . the straw is just amazing. I can't say enough about the straw. I don't know who they found to do this straw work, but it rings true to the 19th century. Popular throughout the 19th century, fancy straws were a lighter than air option for summer. Usually the decorative work was produced in strips and then sewn together either to other strips or to straw braid. I purchased straw thread and a straw splitter years ago in the hopes of making a fancy straw. I realized after starting, the bonnet would end up being a ultra time intensive labor of love that I would be afraid to wear for fear of damaging it. For the Jane Eyre bonnet, my fear is that they took the straw off of an original bonnet. My hope is they paid someone an exorbitant amount of money to make this masterpiece. One day, I hope to finish my fancy straw bonnet. Until then, I will enjoy looking at this one.
Today when we want to see an image again we simply screenshot it on our phone or computer. It was not quite so easy in the 19th century. This ferrotype (tintype) is reproduction of an earlier image probably dating to the early 1850s judging by her clothing. The edge of the original image is visible and indicated by the black line around the outside. When I purchased this image off of eBay, I was hoping it was a daguerreotype mislabeled as a tintype, but I wasn't quite so lucky. Nonetheless, she is pretty interesting. Wet plate photography captured a phenomenal level of detail. Even though this is a copy, you can see the canes in her bonnet, the wrinkles in her hands, the print of her dress, and so much more.
This woman apparently was so frustrated with her bonnet falling off of the back of her head that she pulled her crossband down over her forehead. Crossbands often appear in extant bonnets and were used to secure the bonnet to prevent slipping off the back of the head. They aren't usually visible in photographs or mentioned in the magazines. Without combining different sources for research, I might of thought that this older woman was just wearing a really groovy headband. Unfortunately, this image doesn't have any back marks, so finding further information about her is difficult. She is a treasured member of my collection and always makes me giggle.
Currently, my goal is to make all of my dress lengths into various ensembles before purchasing any more fabric. With this particular fabric, I decided to recreate this mid-late 1860’s gown shown in the book Sous L’Empire des Crinolines. I don’t have enough of the fabric to make the under and overskirt out of the same fabric, but I found the exact same colors with a wider stripe for the detachable overskirt. Without the overskirt, the gown will be usable for balls and slightly earlier events. As I always do, I started with the skirts. I cut my panels, stitched them, added the facing, and hem. However, when I tried to balance the skirt, it was too short. I am not sure how this happened, I have not grown taller in at least 20 years. So, how to fix it… With the lovely horizontal trim on the skirts, I have an option. I will slice the skirts under the trim to lengthen the dress about two inches. Not looking forward to this, but I am not ready to throw in the towel on this dress yet! Everyone makes mistakes. Tricks and fixes are visible on a lot of extant gowns, so it isn’t just me.
This French plate from 1812 is one of our very favorites. Furthermore, one of our favorite creations was inspired by this plate. We started with a base from our Ophelia pattern with a few brim adjustments. We used sinamay fabric to achieve the flipped up brim with great success. The ivory silk was gathered flat and then placed on the bonnet and trimmed and bound with red silk taffeta bands. Twelve feathers were hand curled and sewn using period techniques to achieve the full look of the plumes.
There is so much to see in this 1860's ambrotype from the Timely Tresses collection: two well dressed women, a spiffy man, and even a dog. The bonnets in this image are stylistically very different. The woman on the right shows a high brim with narrow sides in the height of popularity in 1863. In contrast, the woman on the left has a rounder earlier bonnet appropriate to the very early 60s or even late 50s. Could this be a younger sister? The fashionable high brimmed bonnet sports two different colored ties, a trend seen in fashion plates, but not often visible on extant bonnets or in photographs.
Due to Covid-19, we have been practically shut down since March. Normally, we get weekly shipments of flowers and ribbons and have a constant flow of changing stock. For the past few months, that has really slowed and I have even had a difficult time sewing millinery feeling that no one would ever wear it. Thank you to those of you who have reached out and supported our business. Fortunately, things have picked up a bit and regular shipments of flowers and other goodies are starting to arrive. Check out our new selections of flowers here.
This fashion plate from the late 1830's has many interesting aspects. The men's jackets show both a frock coat appropriate for day wear and a cut away appropriate for more formal occasions. The women's dresses show aspects of the 1830s and the coming 40s. The skirts are wide and short appropriate to the 30s, but the waists are a bit longer and the sleeves are tight indicating the coming trends of the 1840s. The bonnets are still specifically 1830s with very large flared brims.
The Ladies’ Monthly Museum
The Mirror of Fashion
A round dress, composed of mull muslin. The body is high; the back full; and the front adorned with work, let in on each side of the bust. The skirt is gored, and finished at the bottom with several small tucks, which are terminated by a flounce of rich scalloped work, set on full. The spenser worn with this dress is composed of ethereal blue gros de Naples; it is tight to the shape; and the waist is of a moderate length; a small pelerine collar falls over; and is very full trimmed with plaitings of net. The long sleeve is of an easy fullness, and is tastefully finished with an epaulette, composed of two rows of shells, of the same material; they are formed by satin rouleaux. Full lace ruff. Head-dress, the Clarence bonnet; we refer to our print for the shape; it is composed of white gros de Naples; the edge of the brim is finished by full fall of lace, surmounted by a plaiting of net; a full plume of ostrich feathers falls over the right side. Blue kid shoes; white gloves; and small French ridicule.
A white lace round dress over a white satin slip. The body is cut very low all round the bust, which is ornamented, in the pelerine style, with falls of lace; the sleeves are composed of net and satin, formed into puffs by small bows of white satin; the lower part is finished by a quilling of net. The skirt is trimmed with three flounces of white satin lace; the two lower ones are surmounted by a very novel and elegant trimming, composed of white satin. The hair is disposed in light curls on each side of the face; the hind hair is dressed in full bows, which are intermixed with roses and convolvuluses. Necklace and ear-rings, pearl. White kid gloves; and white figured-silk shoes.
This plate and many others are featured in our fashion plate books.
Recently, I have been redoing our fashion plate books for the 1830s. One exciting development in the 1830s is the appearance of American fashion magazines with hand colored plates. Although frequently copied from European magazines, they give us a look at the fashion American editors were sharing with their readers. In the beginning of the 1830s, there are usually only two plates per six month volume and they often do not offer descriptions, This plate is from The Ladies Magazine in May 1833 edited by Sarah Josepha Hale. The Ladies Magazine and The Lady's Book were still two separate entities in 1833, but eventually joined forces to become Godey's Lady's Book.
Good morning everyone! I love cased images. They offer so much detail that every time you look at them you see something new.
The above image is a 1/6 plate ambrotype probably dating between 1856 and 1858. How do I know? The bonnets. Bonnets between 1856 and 1858 were extremely small, sat very low and back on the head. From the front, they look like little halos. In this image, the ties are wide and long. Even when tied, the ends reach to the elbows of the wearers. Some bonnets in the 1850s show shorter ties, but as we move towards the 1860s ties are long.
The most important detail to note about the bonnet trimming is the very full cap of netting. If there is any detail reproductions miss, the amount of netting on late 1850s and early 1860s bonnets. If you are trimming a bonnet and wonder if you need more netting, the answer is yes.
I am off for now, but stay tuned for your next installment of Wet Plate Wednesday!
Recently while scrolling through images on eBay, I spotted this image of mother and child. It was labeled "Antique Tintype Daguerreotype Photograph of Mother & Child In Original Frame". I scratched my head a bit. Which is it? A tintype or daguerreotype? From her clothing, I suspected she was a tintype or an ambrotype. I prefer cased images to CDVs because of the level of detail. The price was affordable for a tintype and out of this world for a daguerreotype, so I bit. When she arrived in the mail, I was eager to find the answer to the mystery (I think I am easily amused or excited in the covid 19 era). She was, as I suspected, an ambrotype. The clarity and detail of the mother were very good and the blurry baby with a hint of smile around the eyes reminded me of photographs of my own children.
Unfortunately, many people do not know the differences between these types of early photography even at museums. Our local history museum was very suspicious of me when I said they had a tintype mislabeled as a daguerreotype. "How do you know? We have been told by an expert that this is a daguerreotype?" I guess the best place to start getting people to know the correct information is sharing it. I am not a photography expert, just a collector of images, but here are some definitions to help identify types of cased images.
Daguerreotype - Positive image on silver. Introduced by Jacques Daguerre in 1839. Expensive and labor intensive, but very high quality images. Quickly replaced by the Ambrotype and Ferrotype in the 1850s. Although the images are durable, tarnish to the silver plate can cause irreparable damage the image.
Ambrotype - Negative image on glass with black backing. Patented in the United States in 1854. Much cheaper process than the Daguerreotype. Unfortunately, the images are vulnerable in comparison to daguerreotypes and ferrotypes.
Ferrotype - Popularly referred to as tintypes. Negative image on iron coated with lacquer or black paint. Invented in Ohio by Hamilton Smith in 1856. Much less expensive and more durable than Ambrotype. Ferrotypes did not require a case. In the US, the ferrotype replaced the ambrotype by the end of the American Civil War. Popularity of the ferrotype did not catch on as quickly in Europe.
Godey’s Lady’s Book
Description of Fashion Plate
Fig. 1. – Dress of poux de soie ; blue shot with pink. The corsage is plain at back and half high ; the fronts also tight to the shape, but only meeting at the very waist, being sloped away in the form of a V, and trimmed with two rows of falling lace. The skirt is without garniture, save a hem of itself about a quarter of a yard in depth ; the sleeves are plain and loose, cut out on the straight way of the material ; they are not confined any where, and reach only midway of the lower arm, the buttons of the sleeves being turned up like cuffs, (see plate), in order to display a pair of under sleeves, made of fine India muslin ; these sleeves belong to a corsage, the front of which is to be seen ; it has drawings across like the sleeves, and is finished at top by a row of narrow lace edging ; deep ruffles of lace fall over the hands. The hat is of white crepe lisse and has three flowers at the side ; the strings are of crape lisse, with a very fine satin piping all round, and edged with narrow blonde. It will be perceived, that the crown of the bonnet sits so flat that it is not at all perceptible in front. Flowers underneath the bonnet.
Fig. 2. – Dress of white book muslin. The corsage is precisely the same as the one just described, except, that instead of being trimmed with two falls of lace, it has two frills of muslin small plaited, and put on with a bouillon, through which a ribbon may be inserted at pleasure. This trimming is continued down the front of the skirt of the dress, the bouillon small plaited, and inserted down the centre of the front ; a glance at out plate will suffice to make this intelligible. The chemisette, appearing in fornt, is richly embroidered. The sleeves of this dress are plain at the shoulder, and the remainder nearly tight. Gauze cap trimmed with satin ribbon ; the cap is without strings to tie. Hiar in bands, brought low at the sides of the face, where it is turned up again.
Fig. 3. – The corsage almost similar to that of figure 1, differing in having a ribbon run through it, (see plate). Bishop sleeves, pointed cuffs, with a cap at the top of the sleeve trimmed to correspond with the collar. Rosette and ends at the waist, coloured silk skirt, a wide flounce and heading pinked out. Bonnet of fancy lace, trimmed with lace and flowers.
Fig. 4. – Dress of silk or muslin, with tight sleeves, lace waist, made of puffs and with caps on the sleeves to put on over the dress ; the waist finished with cord and tassel ; one extra wide flounce. Drawn bonnet, cottage form, trimmed with wheat and ribbon. Light fancy sash.
Godey’s Lady’s Book
Description of the Fashion Plate.
Having “distanced” all our contemporaries, it only remained for us to anticipate Nature, and we therefore present a picture of green fields and waving woodlands, even though January’s cold may be at this moment chilling the graceful forms of our lady readers. Seriously, having given all the stylish cloaks and mantillas that pleased us, and thinking by this time they had been profited by in the selection of winter wardrobes, we have exerted our taste and ingenuity in getting out a pretty spring costume, that our demoiselles may have some clue to what will be worn the ensuing season. Apart from the information conveyed, we flatter ourselves that as a picture, it adds much to the beauty of the number, and will bear preservation long after the styles it faithfully portrays shall have become antique.
Figure 1st – Riding dress for the country. – Leghorn hat, with a rolled brim, the dress a full skirt of pale drab-colored cashmere, fastened up the front by a close row of very small silk buttons of the same color. A “Jack Sheppard” waist (see Lady’s Book for November) of nankeen, with a rich white linen braid embroidery on the front and sleeves. The short skirt, or basque, is trimmed in the same way as the waist, and lined with pale blue Florence silk. Plain linen collar and cuffs, and a blue ribbon neck tie. Gloves as near as possible the shade of the waist.
2d figure – Morning dress for a watering-place. – Under robe of white cambric muslin, with a border of narrow tucks and fine embroidery. Over dress of jaconet muslin, the sleeves wide and loose at the wrist. This robe has a rich border of needlework, with a scalloped edge. A belt of pale green fastened by a small gold buckle, confines it at the waist. Hat of uncut Leghorn, trimmed with pale green ribbon, and a fall of deep lace, that, thrown back over the brim, serves as a veil. The hat is designed expressly and only for the country, where it will be found very useful.
Godey’s Lady’s Book
Description of Steel Fashion-Plate for April.
Fig. 1.—Child’s walking-dress of blue cashmere, with small round pelerine. The dress is braided with very narrow black velvet, and has long ends of the cashmere, braided, fastened to a belt falling at the back.
Fig. 2.—Infant’s robe, elegantly embroidered en tablier; trimmed with blue rosettes; wide sash of blue ribbon, and cap trimmed to match.
Fig. 3.—Nurses’ dress of brown de laine, with narrow frill at the neck.
Fig. 4.—Dress of lavender-colored silk, with nine graduated flounces bound with lavender silk, relieved with black velvet stripes; sash bound with the same; body plain, trimmed with folds of the material, crossing from right to left in front; angel sleeves, trimmed with a puffing of the silk, and caught together with narrow bands. Straw-colored gloves, with two buttons, and worked with lavender-color. Bonnet of rice straw, trimmed with fuchsia-colored ribbon and Marguerites of the same color.
Fig. 5.—A wine-colored silk, with three flounces bound with black velvet and a puffing at the bottom of the skirt; then three flounces graduated in their width, and a puffing put on in festoons, each festoon being caught up with a large ribbon bow and ends; body trimmed en berthé, with two ruffles and a puffing; sleeves loose, and trimmed to match the skirt. Ribbon sash, with bow and ends. Gloves worked with wine-color, to match the dress. Frill of lace round the neck.
Fig. 6.—Green silk dress, having the front breadth gored, and nine very small ruffles at the bottom of the skirt; a row of buttons down the front of the dress; body plain; sleeves with caps, and trimmed at the bottom with box plaits and ruching. Point lace collar and sleeves. Leghorn bonnet, trimmed with bunches of cherries; the bonnet ribbon has also cherries worked on it. Gloves worked with green.
While everyone in my house is asleep, I like to work on research projects. Currently, my catalogues are a mess. I have no idea what I have in my collections. I decided to start with my photographs. This 1850's 1/9 plate daguerreotype needed new seals, so I decided to scan her while she was open. She is so incredibly clear. I love all the little details in her bonnet, but am absolutely fascinated by her collar. Does anyone know what kind of treatment that is?
The Lady’s Book.
Philadelphia Fashions for July, 1831.
First Figure.—Dress of transparent crape over a white Florence. Sleeves of blond or bobbinet, very wide and full, finished with cuffs and epaulettes of the same material as the dress. Hair in large folds and bows, with no other ornament than a white rose.
Second Figure.—Dress of painted muslin. Canezon handkerchief of French worlds muslin. Grenadine scarf. Bonnet, with a round crow of white gros de nap, and a front of coloured woodlawn ; folds of wood-lawn go nearly round the crown. The trimming is of white gauze riband, edged and figured with the same colour as the wood-lawn ; each bow being finished with a knot at the bottom.
The child’s dress is a frock, pantalets and cape of cambric muslin, with a narrow border of coloured braiding. A straw hat.
Today we are looking at a plate from July of 1831. I am very fortunate to have in my collection several very early editions of The Lady's Book which would later become Godey's Lady's Book. In the early to mid 1830s, there are usually only 2 fashion plates per 6 month volume. Even into the 1840s, not every month has a plate and they often do not have description. Other magazines, such as the Lady's Cabinet, have four plates per month with descriptions making them a better bang for your buck if you are only interested in fashion. However, Godey's is so much more than a fashion magazine. Within its pages, you will find works from authors like Edgar Allan Poe and Nathanial Hawthorne, sheet music, architectural plans, and so many other things that make it a great place to examine cultural history.
Looking at this particular plate, there are so many details to see. I love the hairstyles, the matching trim on the child's pantalets and dress, the length of the shawl, the jewelry, the tiny handbag the child holds, and so many other things. If one thing in particular really stands out, it is the bonnets (or maybe that is just because of my bonnet problem). They are crazy, almost like wearing a pizza pan on your head or the bonnet in the PBS series Sanditon that everyone freaked out about. (They were over a decade fashion forward, but guess what? that crazy thing actually was a style.) We are very fortunate that this plate actually has a description. Like many fashion plates, the colors do not match the description. The rose in the woman's hair is supposed to be white. The ribbon on the bonnet is also supposed to be white. The dress on the bonneted figure is "of painted muslin". The plate as a whole makes me want to start a new early 1830's impression. Who is with me?
A base for an evening headdress is easy to create at home. The examples below are from the MET museum dating from the 1840s to the 1860s. Start with some millinery wire and buckram. Cut a teardrop shape from the buckram approximately 3" x 1 1/2". Wire around the teardrops leaving a wire section to cross the top of the head. Cover the frame with velvet to match your hair. Velvet helps the headdress cling to the hair and keep from slipping off of the head. Velvet ribbon works well. Fold the velvet in half over the tear drop. Baste the velvet to the buckram. Bind around each teardrop and across the top with coordinating velvet. Trim the teardrop sections with ribbons or flowers to taste. Hairpins at the top of each section will help attach the headdress to your properly styled hair. For kits and premade headdress bases, click here.