C.1918-1919. A very unusual dress to find! Maternity
clothes don't often survive as they often used again and again until they fell apart (these were the days before birth control) or were cut down and made into regular clothing for after the baby was born.
This one dates to the end of the Edwardian era and would have been worn by a heavily pregnant woman in the later stages of mourning. I don't think it would have been a
husband due to the lack of crepe but maybe another family member or friend that died. I am almost certain that the dress itself was originally from the 1860's, and then renovated during the 1910's. The dress has piping around the dropped shoulder seams and around the waist. The somber black taffeta is also
the good stiff kind like they had in the mid Victorian era, not like the tin loaded shattering kind so often found in Edwardian dresses.
The waistline of the dress is at natural length which was popular during the late 1910's before it dropped right down to the hips in the 1920's. The skirt is very full and is accordian pleated. Full skirts were revived as well during the late 1910's.
The dress bodice has black matte soustache
trim arranged in a swirly pattern all around the front and back of the bodice and on the bottoms of the 3/4 length sleeves. The scoop neckline has embroidered dots all around it. The back
of the bodice fastens with decorative taffeta covered buttons
over hook 'n thread loops. It's in pretty good condition with the exception of a narrow V shaped rip
about 1" long but the thread loops in the middle of the back. It looks like something caught on it and tore the fabric (maybe one of the hooks).
The skirt does have horizontal rows of stitch
holes were it looks like flounces were sewn onto the skirt. I don't know if these stitch holes were from when it was an 1860's dress or if they were added and then removed during the 1910's (crepe perhaps?).
This length of this dress would suit someone 5'9"- 5'11". It should come to about calf length. I'm 5'9" and it comes just below my calf. The size is a pregnant US size 14/ UK 16. I originally thought this was a plus size dress but when I tried it on, the arms, bust and upper body fit like a regular US size 14/ UK 16 with only the waist being very large. It fit like my maternity clothes did and the made me stand and look pregnant too! I tied a pillow around the waist of the mannequin so you
would get an idea of how it would have looked like worn over a "bump".
Measurements: Shoulders 18" but these are dropped seams, shoulders of 15 1/2"- 16" are ideal. Bust 44" but a bust of 41"- 42" is ideal. Waist 45", when I was pregnant, my waist reached 42" so it makes sense that this is a maternity dress. Length almost 50".
(Formerly L. Hidic)