June 13, 2016

Vintage Fun: the 1840s

Ah, the good old eighteen forties, when-
Well, when...
What did happen in the 1840s, anyway?
Fashion, that's what happened! The 1840s is not a popular decade to study, mainly because not a whole lot took place. Or the things that did happen (the Industrial Revolution or the Oregon Trail, for example), took place gradually over several decades. The 1840s aren't remembered for being distinct in any way, but they should be: they are a unique decade in fashion.

                                 Dress, late 1830s-1840s. American Textile History Museum, 1998.188.3:

I think people in the 1840s realized how silly they had been in the 1830s and wanted to tone it down a bit. So they decided to get rid of those ridiculous poofs and ruffles, and made dresses more simply. This dress is a great example of how people turned from trimming dresses with lace and bows, and began tucking, pleating, and gathering the fabric itself to make a dress more interesting.
                              Afternoon dress Date: ca. 1843 Culture: American Medium: cotton:
The torso and sleeves were probably the most detailed parts of an 1840s gown, as seen in the fan-pleated front on this summery dress.

I love this picture. The dress is so pretty; it shows the popular narrow sleeves and fan-pleated front of the era.  I think the girl wearing this dress is just so pleasant too. I would have liked to be her friend. And notice the heart locket she's wearing? It's all just so perfect!

                                   Wedding dress, circa 1841.:
Perhaps you've heard how Queen Victoria popularized wearing a white gown as the bride. This dress would have been made shortly after the queen got married. The gathered sleeves are rather fun, if not a bit excessive. :) A wide neckline, a pleated fan front, and gorgeous fabric make this dress beautiful.

                           Dress, 1840s, State Historical Museum, Moscow:
I love the crossover front to this dress, as well as the matching belt and buckle. The pattern of the fabric is really crisp and elegant. I'm amazed at how well it looks after over 150 years!

                             Victoria and Albert Museum: 1842, England; This dress is characteristic of fashionable styles from the early 1840s. The neckline is wide with a deep collar or ‘bertha’. The long, tight sleeves are typical of the 1840s, while the short over-sleeves recall the elaborate sleeves of the 1830s. The waist is lengthened in front with a point both front and back. The elaborate applied decorations of the 1830s are now no longer fashionable.:
I like how simply elegant this dress is. The wide collar is called a bertha, and the sleeve decorations are called mancherons.

     Which do you prefer, the 1830's or the 1840's?
Which decade would you like me to cover in the future?


  1. Oh! I like the blue dress. That's lovely. And the picture of the little girl is so sweet. :)

    Hmm...good question. I think I liked the fabrics used in the 1930s dresses better (at least the particular ones in your former post). They were more colorful and interesting. But the huge puffed sleeves aren't really my thing, so I like that they toned that down a bit in the 40s. I guess I can't really say which I prefer. I like a little of each. :)

    Oh, dear. I don't know. I think I'll just enjoy whichever decade you decide to share about next. :)

    Lovely post, Abby!

    1. I have a hard time deciding too. I like parts of both decades, but if I had to choose, I would go with the 1840s.
      Haha, thank you! I'm not positive it'll be next, but I may just go in order and do an 1850s one. I know, even more obscure! I really have to pace myself with these posts so they don't come out too close together, but I have so much fun making them.

  2. What a lovely post Abby! Love everything what is about the 40s. :)

    1. Thanks Rachel! :) Thank goodness for Pinterest, otherwise I wouldn't really know how pretty the 40s can be.

  3. I love 1840's fashion. These dresses are gorgeous.

  4. Definitely 1840's. The dresses are so pretty!!Really!
    I like the second and fifth dresses the most!
    You have a lovely blog, Abby, by the way.

    1. Thank you, Ruth! Just found your blog; it looks wonderful as well! :)