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Polonaise Dress

Polonaise Dress
C.1880-1883. The polonaise style of dress became originated in the late 18th century with the "Shepherdess" look. The fashion was revived in the early 1870's, when the Dolly Varden style became fashionable. This style was a revival of the late 18th century look. Later, in the early 1880's, a simpler longer version became fashionable.
The polonaise is merely a bodice with a very long basque. 1870's polonaise's were puffy at the hips mimicking 18th century panniers. The 1880's style was cut like very long bodices. Some such as this one are so long, almost to the floor, that sometimes they are mistaken for Princess style dresses. The polonaise bodice was always worn with an underskirt. The underskirt worn with this polonaise bodice is made out of silk satin. Its decorated with a band of jet beads going around the hip of the skirt, and with 3 flounces edged with lace with each hand sewn onto the skirt using the shirring technique. The fabric is runched up, and was extremely fashionable at the beginning of the 1880's.
The waist measures 24" and the length is 39". The bodice is made out of cut velvet and originally had sleves. I believe the original owner was in the process of renovating it into a long waistcoat which could be worn over a blouse. The front of the bodice has a lovely crocheted fringe hanging down Heavy upholstery trimmings like this were popular during the 1880's. The bust measures 28", waist 23" and shoulders 13". The bodice is fully boned. The total length of the polonaise bodice is 51" at the front and 55" at the back. This would allow for the bustle to be worn underneath.
This dress certainly would have been worn with a bustle and a set of half hoops due to the sheer weight of the fabric of the dress. Regular fabric petticoats wouldn't be full enough to hold out the dress.
(Formerly L. Hidic)