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Can you please help me date this possible Edwardian dress?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion - Ask Questions Get Answers' started by peaceful vintage, May 27, 2011.

  1. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Linn, Thank you for the warm welcome and compliment on my photos. Compliments are always welcome ;).
  2. vgirl, I'm going to go against the grain and say that this is a costume piece too - like your other dresses. It's very easy to make a dress in the style of an era but this is not made using the construction techniques of the era the style depicts.

    The hem in particular - dressmakers did not sew a line of stitching like this until fairly recently: '80s. Until then the idea was not to show the stitches and so hems were usually hand finished. I worked in a theatre wardrobe company in the late '80s and even then we had to hand sew all the hems - I worked on a Victorian style production and had to hand sew hems even when they were 8 metres long!

    The bodice does not sit well in my opinion, I wonder if this was a costume piece that has been adapted at some stage? None of the interior construction is good quality. Without handling it, I can't say much more except to say that you have a dress that may have some age but has been altered at some stage, perhaps in the last 30 years.

  3. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Nicole, Thank you. I am fairly certain that this one is not a costume piece. I am able to tell this is truly old by the condition and the way the fabric feels. I am not sure the snaps that are on this would be on a costume piece.
  4. vgirl, as I mentioned elsewhere, it can be hard to date things accurately with only photos: you have the garment in your hand and can tell things that we here can not, so the judgement is ultimately yours because you have more information at your finger tips.

    I still do not feel that this is an authentic garment from the period but I do think it's been altered and updated at times. It could even be older than the seller claimed but for me, I can't date it with confidence on the available information. Snaps are not necessarily helpful with datings because they are often replaced - and they're common in theatre costumes. I've seen a lot of period dress from this period and the construction and the way it sits just doesn't ring true for me.

  5. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Nicole, I totally appreciate and respect your opinion. Thank you.
  6. vertugarde

    vertugarde Alumni

    I've looked at this piece again and I agree with Nicole that this and the other two dresses posted by vgirl appear to be reproduction costume pieces.

    The black voile fabric design is a burn-out print and while devore or burn-out technique on velvet is used around that period was.not common on fabric without a pile I believe until later. I was a was also looking at the closures. The bodice appears to use few snap closures and I would have expected more snaps or hooks and eyes. The fasteners on the petersham waistband also look modern to me or have been replaced.

    Having said that, the detail on the collar is very nice.

    Like Nicole I've worked with costume pieces for film and theatre
    and you get a feel for these things and as Nicole says this one
    just doesn't quite ring true.
  7. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator Staff Member

    Vertugarde, I am not sure if I misunderstood what you posted but the Voile fabric design is not printed. It is actual threaded design in the voile.
    This garment was not owned by the same individual as the other garments I asked for dating on so it would be a coincidence if they were all costume pieces.
    I am certain though that this is not a costume piece. I believe if any of you were able to touch and see this garment in person you would know.
    It feels extremely delicate. So delicate that I am afraid to handle it very much at all. It is in great condition but it is very fragile. There is a little bit of fabric fraying, seams coming apart, and a few small holes. It looks and feels old and fragile.
    The piece reminds of a time when people were in war and did not have a lot to work with. The construction inside looks very homemade and not the skilled work of a costume designer.
    It is a possibility there were alterations or replacement parts. I think the snaps are original. I think if anyone tried to take them out the fabric would be ruined.
    I was not sure of the age but I know this one is not a repo. comstume piece.
  8. Rue_de_la_Paix

    Rue_de_la_Paix VFG Member


    My last word. I think all 3 pieces you have kindly shared with us, are all original antique or vintage garments. However, all 3 have been altered at some point to make them fit a new wearer, and a strong possibility is that this was done for use as a costume for a film or play...both to fit a new wearer/s and possibly to alter the style to fit a time period.

    All the fabrics used in these dresses are clearly antique or vintage. The alterations are shown and obvious. I certainly respect the opinions of the others, and this forum has room for all to share, but my 35 years of researching antique clothing (including working with professional costumers for film and theatre) tells me they are not reproductions.

    Although they may have been altered or used as a costume, to sell them as simply as "costume" may be a mistake, in my opinion. You would miss reaching the antique clothing collectors market who would still be very interested in these garments, regardless of the alterations.

    OK...my two cents has been spent.

  9. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator Staff Member

    Barbara, Thank you for all of the words you have offered to assist me. You have been very helpful. :)

    Thank you everyone else too.
  10. Thank you, vertugarde for your words - I was hoping you'd pop in as you have a lot of experience with older garments and costumes too.

    vgirl, I'm not sure what you mean by saying the floral design is threaded through and not printed? In the photos you've shown, it doesn't look that way to me. Do you mean woven?

    Regarding costumes, you have three types:
    - theatrical: which are generally very well made as they have to hold up during myriad performances, in fact they're often better made that fashion of the time
    - film: which often use vintage materials and have close attention to detailing even with reproduction period labels
    - fancy dress, which were made by non-professionals for an event. This last category are frequently poorly made because they were not designed to be worn more than once.

    In general, older fashions were better made than they have been in the last few decades, and fashions prior to 1920 were very well made and often contained a lot of structure and handfinishing. I have seen hundreds of garments pre-1920 and never have I seen an original garment as shoddily made as your ensemble, with narrow unfinished seams that will inevitably unravel. The snaps have been sewn on sloppily, the back of the collar contains too few and too messy stitches. The waistband in particular bothers me because it's very clunky and messy - and as I mentioned before, I do not like the hem as it is not sewn using any traditional technique. If it were pre-1920 I would also expect it to be lined, as it's so sheer.

    What I do like is the collar - it shows an attention to detail that the rest of the garment does not, and that's why I wonder if is a remodelled outfit?

    This ensemble highlights the difficulty of identifying garments purely from photos: as I've said earlier, a great deal of information is available by holding it in your hand. Whilst I respect your opinion, and that of the other contributors to this thread, I can only draw on my own experience which is of over 30 years working with historical societies, museums, private collections, buying and selling period dress as well as studying costume design and construction.

    If I were you, when you go to sell them I would say that you bought them under the understanding that they were of x period but that it's possible they have been altered or perhaps used as theatrical costumes at some time. You have a responsibility to express doubt if you feel it but the buyer will make up their own mind too.

  11. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Nicole, The cream colored portion of the collar points is thread. It is not printed on there.
    Everything leads me to believe that this is period with alterations through time so that is what I will describe.

    I trust all of your years experience and I am grateful that you all are sharing it with me.

    Thanks again.
  12. vgirl, the collar looks like it's machine embroidery. Do you agree that the rest of the fabric is printed with the floral design?

  13. bycin

    bycin Guest

    Fun discussion!
  14. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator Staff Member

    Nicole, The collar is machine embroidery. The rest of the fabric is printed.

    Bycin, it is even more fun because you joined the conversation. :)
  15. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator Staff Member

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