Ivory silk and lace wedding dress, 1898

This dress was worn by Mary Bishop Whisler of Hancock County, Ohio for her wedding on September 25, 1898. The blousing at front of the bodice was typical of the turn-of-the-century. A look at the interior structure reaveals that the underbodice is heavily boned down the front, with the loose appearance being created with a space between the two layers of the bodice. The loose front of the bodice also conceals a secret pocket in the underbodice. This pocket is not visible when the dress is worn. Most likely the bride tucked a personal keepsake next to her heart.

The waist of the bodice has two hooks at the center back, which align with corresponding eyes on the skirt’s waistband. These points of attachment ensured that the dress remained straight and in place. The lace flounce on the skirt is not simply stitched onto the surface of the skirt; it actually conceals the seam between the pieces of the skirt. The flared trumpet shape is created with a semi-circular piece wrapped around the back and bottom of the skirt. This ruffle is then stiffened with a form of interfacing. The bottom hem is finished inside with an inch deep facing of matching velvet.

  1. Ivory silk and lace wedding dress
    American, 1898
    Silk broadcloth, machine lace, cotton lining, baleen, velvet hem facing
    Gift of Dr. Roland Mitchell, KSUM 1993.18.1 ab

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