Photography was becoming common in the 1860s, and it was usual for people to go to a studio to have their pictures taken. It was still quite an event to get your picture taken, but it was certainly more efficient and affordable than sitting for a painted portrait!
I used to think that old black and white photographs were boring, but when I look a little closer, they can be really good examples of what people wore. Fashion plates are Barbie-ized versions of fashion, and individual garments that have survived only tell part of the story. Photographs give you a realistic version of what people looked like, and how they wore their clothes; accessories, hair, and all.
Sometimes I still have trouble finding a real connection with the people in the pictures; or even imagining them as real flesh-and-blood people! The pictures are mostly so static, but sometimes you'll catch a hint of their true character, in a half smile or a twinkling eye.
You're probably noticing the basic characteristics of 1860s clothing: a large full skirt, tight around the waist, and buttoned up to a high neckline collar. Belts around the waist, lace collars, and brooches were popular accessories. Trimming dresses was also very popular; both as a fashion trend, and as a way to make worn out dresses look newer during the difficult years of the Civil War.
I love the simple elegance of this dark silk dress. It's interesting to notice that this lady has a bracelet on each wrist, a fan, earrings, and a brooch, which all dress up an otherwise unadorned gown.
Here we see some children's fashion. The girl on the right has a shorter skirt than a woman would, as does the cute little one sitting on the lap. I can't say for certain if the toddler is a boy or a girl as boys were kept in dresses until they were potty-trained (remember: only outhouses and chamber pots back then!) The ribbon in the hair makes me think this is probably a girl, but I'm not an expert. :P
This looks like quite a fancy lady, with her long dangling earrings, large brooch and buckle, and watch. Talk about accessorizing! I also love the plaid. That is plaid well-done, my friends.
Look at her hair! And her dress looks so silky, I can almost hear it rustling!
In a time without electric irons, washers, or dryers, even a row of pleats on the sleeves and the back could have been difficult to manage! Also, look at this lady's hair! And her lovely earrings. :)
Last but not least, here's a picture of an "aww"-worthy couple!
Did you have a favorite picture from this post?
Do you like this decade of fashion?