I bring you only the latest in fashion. No? Well, be that as it may, I bring you the latest fashions from Godey's Lady's Book of 1870. I was just given these lovely plates this month by a cousin. I don't yet know what I will do with them after this post, perhaps they will go on a wall some day, perhaps not. Until then, they will live with my Civil War Sheet music in plastic sleeves next to the 24 Tres Parisien pochoirs.There just aren't enough walls.
I have a mixed reactions to these old fashion plates. They are pretty and I am fond of the etching technique. The colors are lovely and I enjoy seeing versions of historic fashionable dress that are outside of the small image pool that is repeated over and over in textbooks and surveys. I also know the reality of this clothing versus how it really was is just as distant as that of Vogue photo shoots to what is worn on the street. Especially if that street is not in Manhattan. As art, the bodies are too tall, and the skirt length is out of proportion at the least.
And I know no matter how much I study, there are codes of taste and social messages inherent in these fashions I will never get. Were some of these looks thought flashy? Perhaps too bourgeois? Or do some of these commit the social sin of being a "bit too much"? Were the designs I perceive as dowdy considered so in 1870? Or were those the height of youthful style? The mystery makes it interesting.
Godey's Fashions for March 1870
Godey's Fashions for May 1870
Godey's Fashions for September 1870
Godey's Fashions for December 1870