Acquired from Mardi Way and family
This dress was part of a family collection that originated in Wales. It is made of a stout cotton that seems slightly at odds with its fine workmanship and the delicate band of embroidery running around the skirt. Nevertheless, its weight gives the dress a well defined silhouette that suggests the female form with its narrow waistband, yet effectively disguises it beneath the heavy gathers of the front of bodice, the skirt held out by a double layer of fabric below knee level and petticoats beneath; and the enormous puffed sleeves that are further exaggerated with the double vandyked collar that extends the shoulder line from the broad shallow neckline.
The band of monochrome embroidery around the skirt echoes the emphasis upon horizontality, its position around knee level being seen in many contemporary fashion plates. Its floral design is closely related to those embroidered on to contemporary white muslin neckwear – sprays of small flowers and leaves bursting forth exuberantly in a series of curved forms. The bodice’s wide neckline was probably covered with one of these ubiquitous accessories, well supported over the shoulders, and possibly embroidered with the same or similar motifs.
Shoulder puffs, based upon those seen as a Related Item, were made to support the sleeves of the dress for the photograph.