During the 1870s, women’s clothing became increasingly complex, colorful, and restrictive, while menswear was marked by an industrious sobriety.
The year 1870 was characterized by an extensive use of vibrant, contrasting colors and ostentatious trims, tassels, and flounces. Emphasis was now placed on individual style over the following of trends. By juxtaposing the desire to be fashionable for the moment with the desire to find what looks good on one’s self, society at large saw wide variety in interpretations of fashionable dress.
This afternoon dress, though not extravagant compared to some of the elaborately decorated gowns of 1874, proves to still be en vogue due to its bustled silhouette, tight-fitting bodice with an elongated waist, and decorated high neckline.
Édouard Manet’s Railway depicts modern life in Paris during 1873; he chose to feature his favorite model, Victorine Meurent, assessing the viewer in a simple navy blue twill dress–book in hand and puppy in lap. She is seated alongside a little girl clad in a white springtime dress with an oversized blue sash whose back is turned to the viewer as she’s observing the Gare Saint-Lazare on a warm day.
This green silk day dress, patterned with an abstracted floral design, displays aspects of style associated with the early 1870s. Its bustle silhouette, vibrant hue, and abundance of trimmings all speak to its fashionability and provide an insight into the trends of the year.
The early 1870s were characterized by bustles, square necklines, sleeves that flare at the wrist, jacket-style bodices, the appearance of aprons, asymmetry, and flounces, frills, and ruffles. This ca. 1872 silk day dress designed by Mon. Vignon is the perfect example of a fashionable early 1870s garment.