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Woman's gown, brocaded silk polonaise, altered

ca. 1770; altered 1870-1885.
Origin: England
Waist: 24 1/2"; OL: 60"; Selvage to selvage width: 20"
Brocaded silk with self color weft float sub pattern; linen and cotton bodice linings; 19th century boning; cotton tapes.
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1952-459,1
Woman's gown of ivory-ground silk taffeta with brocaded pattern of detached small flower sprays in dark green, olive, and shades of rose, against a self-color ground pattern of satin stripes and flowering vines. Gown has fitted bodice, lined with plain-woven linen and twill cotton. Gown front is laced closed, with boning positioned down the fronts and at the sides. Sleeves are angled to curve over the elbows, ending below the elbows. Low round neckline. The bodice back is fitted with center pleats. The full skirt is pleated at the waistline to a point at center back. Garment is trimmed with pinked and pleated self- ruching around the neckline, on the sleeves, down the front bodice, and at the edges of the open skirt front. On the unlined interior skirt, linen tapes spaced 10" apart are sewn at sides and center back to indicate that the gown was worn drawn up (sometimes referred to as "Polanaise" style). Pleats on bodice back are turned toward inside. Bodice darts, waistband tape, and old fold lines indicate remodeling in the 1870s or 1880s.
Label:This woman's gown, originally made around 1770, betrays its nineteenth-century alterations. Machine-sewn darts and new, boned seams create an hourglass bodice shape that was typical of the nineteenth century. The tapes for drawing the skirt up in the draped polonaise style are replacements positioned on their old marks. The bodice silhouette and the polonaise-style skirt suggest that the gown was remade around 1870 to 1885, a time when draped skirts and variations on the polonaise had returned to fashionable dress. The result owes much to the eighteenth century in color, fabric, and trim, but conforms to nineteenth-century aesthetics in silhouette and reconstruction method.