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Quarterly report of metropolitan fashions, autumn 1892. Chromolithograph copyrighted by Butterick Publishing Co.,1892. https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.59502

Late 19th-Century Fall Fashions

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September is a month for fashion weeks around the world, when models walk the runway wearing designs for the upcoming seasons. Magazine editors, designers, fashionistas and more look to the catwalk to see the newest trends. One of the ways 19th-century consumers learned about the latest in fashion was through advertisements produced by pattern, dressmaking, and tailoring companies.

Take a look at these fall fashions from the 1880s and 1890s from our Popular Graphic Arts Collection. In the first image, women are assured they can even wear these dresses on a bicycle ride!

Quarterly report of metropolitan fashions. Autumn, 1895. Chromolithograph copyrighted by Butterick Publishing Co., 1895. https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.45009

Young girls are dressed to match their adult counterparts in this image from 1889.

Quarterly report of metropolitan fashions, Autumn 1889. Chromolithograph copyrighted by Butterick Publishing Co., 1889. https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.44969

The gathers and bustles on the backs of these dresses are featured here, with many ladies in the illustration turned in profile or facing away from us.

E. Butterick & Co.’s report of New York fashions, for fall 1871. Chromolithograph copyrighted by Butterick (E.) & Co., 1871. https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.44956

The men were not left out of the scene, of course. While a bit less colorful than the women’s fashions, they also had the chance to choose patterns, fabrics and styles from such ads as this one from 1891.

American fashions, fall & winter, August 1891. Chromolithograph copyrighted by Mitchell (Jno. J.) Co., 1891. https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.44980

Showing these men in suits and overcoats in the context of what appears to be a train station plants the idea that you will look quite dapper during your commute to the office in these choices. (See comments – this turns out to be one of the original New York Stock Exchange buildings!)

American fashions, fall and winter 1884-5. Chromolithograph copyrighted by Mitchell (Jno. J.) Co., 1884. https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.44972

Advertisements like the above give interesting insight into not only fashion of a particular time period, but also how consumers would learn of it, and join the latest fashion trends!

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Comments (4)

  1. What wonderful examples! One could spend hours pouring over the details of the women’s outfits (and being glad not to have to trudge around in them). Thanks, too, for pointing out the further resources.

  2. Thank you for these wonderful images. Of course the men’s clothing has changed so much less than the women’s.

    Can anyone identify the train station whose interior is depicted in the background of the last print? There’s a sign for the “N. Jersey Central.” Trains from NYC to New Jersey leave now from Penn Station, but I don’t know if it has rooms that look like this. It would be interesting to add an access point for the station if we can identify it.

    • Hello Barbara,
      I am so glad you asked this question! I had speculated this could be a train station based on the N. Jersey Central sign, but when I saw your comment, I also tried to identify which station without much success. I zoomed in on the wall in the back of the image and found this in the blue rectangle: Founded MDCCXCII, which translates to 1792. A bit of searching with that date confirmed that the New York Stock Exchange was essentially founded in 1792, and further searches reveal this to be the interior of one of the original NYSE buildings, demolished in 1900 and replaced in 1903 by the current building. I will see about having this information added to the catalog record. Thanks again!

  3. The audience for this document was intended to be the growing middle class of America.

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