Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ladies Home Journal - 1895 - Fashionable Visiting Costumes

It is through the interchange of visits that womankind keeps in touch with all that is going on in the world. The general woman has long ago seen the wisdom of a special at home day and realized the undesirability of having anybody "just drop in."
No matter how intimate two people may be it is pleasanter to each to make the visit rather a formal affair, paying due respect to one's hostess by proper dressing and proper consideration of the hour and the day. One makes a call on all the people whose names appear in one's visiting book at least once a year; and these calls, if possible, should be made in person, for there is, after all, not very much compliment in paying a yearly visit by post, or even through the most dignified footman.


The hostess on her "at home " day is dressed daintily, but with great care, for she does not wish to convey the impression that her gown is finer than that of her visitors. The prettiest toilette is a well-fitting dress trimmed a little more elaborately than that which would be chosen for the street, and yet having about it no suggestion of the tea-gown or wrapper. In our illustration is shown a very smart costume to be worn by a hostess on her regular Thursday. The skirt is a black crepon with a tiny polka dot embroidered upon it in black silk; it is made with a pronounced flare and is a bit longer than a street skirt. The bodice is of heliotrope velvet having a plain fitted back and a draped front, the fullness being drawn up in such a way that it fastens high up on one side above the bust-line under a large bow of heliotrope satin. The full sleeves are of velvet and shape in to the arms by means of fine tricks that draw in the fullness, while the wrist finish is of heliotrope satin.


In the illustration is pictured the costume worn by a vsitor and while it is rich-looking, is quite as proper to be worn when walking as when driving. The material used is golden-brown broadcloth. The skirt has the usual spring, stands out well at the back, not only because it is stiffened, but because around the edge is sewed the covered bone that comes for this purpose. The bodice is fitted basque with a ripple skirt a little over a quarter of a yard deep. Five strips of cut jet start from the neck and shoulder seams in front, and reach to a little below the bustline,where each is finished with a swinging jet tassel. The belt is of black galloon hidden under cut jets and having all around, at regular intervals, jet tassels like those on the bodice but somewhat longer. The high collar is of black satin ribbon with pointed jet sections coming over it as if a turned down jet collar were worn. The sleeves are full puffs shaping in to cuffs that are decorated each with five large cut jet buttons placed on the outer side, though well toward the middle. The bonnet is a thin, brown felt capote trimmed with -jet and yellow velvet roses. This bodice is made sufficiently large to have a chamois jacket worn under it, so that until very cold weather comes a wrap is not necessary. The gloves are light tan undressed kid. In any of the dark colors this costume would be pretty and, of course, any pretty bead trimmings fancied could be substituted for the jet garniture. The vogue given to heliotrope, silver gray and black is attributed to the fact that so many of the royalties are laying aside mourning and assuming these shades. A silver gray get-up that is especially smart is shown in our illustration.The skirt is of silver-gray bengaline and has no trimming whatever. The bodice is of the same material and has square jacket fronts of silver-gray velvet out-Iined with a piping of steel passementerie. Just in front is a loose gilet of rose-colored chiffon. The sleeves have puffs of the velvet and cuffs of the silk with a narrow frill of chiffon. The bonnet is made of cut steel and pink velvet.


Another simple but pretty toilette has a skirt of black silk, and with it is a bodice of the same material having a yoke, cuffs and collar of white satin overlaid with circles of cut jet. A long wrap of black velvet trimmed with jet and black guipure lace is worn with this, and a tiny bonnet of black velvet decorated with fans of white lace, black tips and jet gives the finishing touch. No niatter how simple one's gown may be, if there is a little care as to its arrangement, and the certainty that one's veil and gloves are quite correct, then one may feel sure that one is properly dressed for a mistake is oftener made in over than in under dressing.

The woman who has to freshen up her black gown for visiting must remember that she can add a box-plait of satin with some decorative buttons on it to the bodice, and that the sleeves may be puffs of satin with cuffs of the gown material, or they may be entirely of the satin. Her-skirt will need only to be freshly stiffened and made immaculate, while the new trimming on the bodice will give a new look to the entire gown. A freshened bodice seen lately was a half-fitted one of black cashmere. It was trimmed with rows of butter colored lace arranged in stripes as was fancied last summer on the grasscloth bodices. Then, over the high stock of black ribbon were four points made of butter-colored lace and insertion, and on the cuffs were deep points of the same colored lace that was a little wider. When the wearer grows weary of this she will put on a flaring sailor collar of velvet.


Every woman knows that it is much easier to freshen up a bodice that is to be worn in the house than one that is to be seen on the street without a wrap over it, for that must be exact. A hostess possessing a black skirt which she intends to wear with many, bodices, displays one made of pale yellow, silk with a full gilet of rose chiffon over it and a zouave jacket of rose velvet spangled with gold. This sounds gaudy, but as the pink is very pale it and the yellow blend perfectly. Dressed carefully for a visit one is able to be at one's best, for it is absolutely true that a woman never feels so happy nor so eager to make others happy, as when she is conscious that her toilette is a sucess. Pay your regular visit, my dear woman and keep yourself in the world. When you grow careless of your social duties you will be out of the world. Arrange for your frock, arrange for your own " at home" day and start out with the intention of seeing your friends and of having the very pleasantest of afternoons.


  1. Wow, sounds like a full time job just getting the perfect outfit for a visit. Could you imagine something like this today? Should I wear my fancy "designer ripped jeans" or the "or my retro stone-washed? And what logo T-Shirt shall I pair with it? My Nike, Coca Cola or Hooters?"

  2. Holy moley. My costume rule is to only wear my good flip flops outside the house.

  3. Couldn't help but notice that "The Importance of Being Ernest" could be costumed just from this one article.

  4. Hello! I have just come across this blog and it is fantastic. Are you going to be starting up again anytime soon?