Promenade Dress

circa 1870s
silk brocade

This fashionable day, or promenade, dress probably dates from 1875-1879. It is a confection of the most exquisite silk brocade – shades of greens and browns with layers of ferns and boughs, all hand finished inside. It is remarkable for the design, the sewing and the fact that it has not been materially altered over the years (many items of clothing in our collections have).

Clothing, of all things, gives a sense of how life was lived – we can (or can’t!) imagine ourselves in someone else’s clothes. This outfit is a glimpse of both the hard-working dressmaker and the elegant, bustled lady.

This object selected by Colleen Wilson.