Unrelated embroidered cotton undersleeves
The restrained design of this outfit shows off to advantage the shot silk it has been made from. Shot silks, woven from warp and weft threads of different colours to produce shifting appearances from different angles, were widely used in the 1840s and 1850s, the strong dark colours favoured in the 1840s giving way to more delicate combinations, as in this example, around the turn of the decade. Depending upon where it is seen from this dress and cape appear predominantly either a light pinkish-mauve, the colour of the weft threads, or a darker blue-green-grey, the colour of the warp threads.
The dress, worn without the cape, can be seen in Additional Images. It is simply trimmed with contrasting green fringing, the front fastening bodice with separate panels ruched into the centre front waist and attached at the neckline and to the back of the shoulders; the flared ‘pagoda’ sleeves are emphasised with an additional flounce above the elbows. Embroidered lawn undersleeves were detachable for laundering or for wearing with other dresses, and probably matched a collar at the neck. The full skirt has been lined in cream glazed cotton with a broad pink hem panel, giving it body, and would have been held out into a dome shape with stiff petticoats prior to the introduction of the crin cage later in the 1850s. The matching cape is trimmed with three rows of narrow velvet ribbon similar in colour to the fringing, and is lined at the front with quilted cream silk for warmth.