Costume Timeline

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Two-piece DressTwo-piece Dress
Silk taffeta and velvet, machine-made lace
French, 1874-1876
Stamped waistband: “FIELD LEITER & co./Paris”
Gift of Midge Neff LeClair, 81.37.19ab

“There is no figure that does not require…the addition of some narrow and slightly projecting [bustle], which, gradually tapering out serves as a support to the drapery below.” … Demorest’s, Fall 1876

The domed skirt silhouette of the 1860s had given way in the 1870s to a slimmer skirt front with its volume in pleats or draping trailing behind. A bustle or tournure supported the skirt at the lower back and petticoats with built-in wire supports sustained the fish-tail trained look that was popular in the mid-decade.

Field, Leiter and Company, in business since the end of the Civil War, ordered garments made in Paris to sell through their store and wholesale operations in Chicago. The silhouette is of the mid-1870s, though it may have been over a year later that is was finally made up, delivered to Chicago, distributed to a wholesaler, and finally purchased by a customer.

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