Three-piece second-day dress, brick-red wool, 1882
Mary Matilda Hancock and Frederick Wm. Watkin were married in New York City in 1882. This three-piece, brick-red, wool dress – a shaped-fitted, basque bodice with pointed peplum, a long gored skirt with overlapping ruffles, and a pouffed overskirt – would have made a wonderful impression when Mr. and Mrs. Watkin embarked on their honeymoon.
This three-piece dress was part of Mary’s trousseau. The word trousseau came from the French word ‘trousse’ which means ‘bundle.’ The Trousseau originated as a bundle of clothing and personal possessions the bride brought with her to her new home. In America, a girl might begin preparing her trousseau from an early age, saving treasured items (including clothing and household linens made by herself or given to her) in a Hope Chest to be stored for her married life. Among a bride’s trousseau would be the dresses and lingerie she would wear right after the wedding and on her honeymoon.
A Second-day dress was a semi-formal dress the new bride would wear when the newlyweds were visiting relatives and friends, or receiving guests in their new home. The second-day dress or suit was usually more modest in style and ornamentation than the wedding gown. It would be worn on special occasions and Sunday church services for years to come. A bride might also wear a going-away suit when she and her husband left for their honeymoon, serving the same function as the Second-day dress.
Original metal buttons have a moon and stars motif.
Today is Ask A Curator Day! In this spirit, the E&T Division curator and staff will participate by answering questions (as best we can!) about our collections here at the Museum of Texas Tech University.
To get things started, the images below display a corset and bustle hoop form dating from the 1880’s. Because these items are no longer worn in modern fashion, they are objects of curiosity that many have never seen before.
Although the petticoats would go over the wire hoops, this is how these items would be worn together. The corset creates and keeps a small waisted, hourglass form that was fashionable. The bustle hoops buckle at the waist, and support a skirt with its shape; flat in the front, bustled at the back, and flared at the bottom.
The corset is tightened and tied in the back, but clasps in the front to easily dress. The small hook shown above hooked over the petticoat waist to prevent it from riding up.
This bustle form was worn under a brown dress made for Ms. Rhoda Shields when she was 16 years old, around 1884. Sadly, she later died three weeks apart from her sister (Mrs. Sophronia Shields Rogers) during an epidemic.
Please leave your comments about these objects, or any other inquiries about our collections!
Two Piece, Silk Brocade and Taffeta Reception Gown, 1875-1880
This silk brocade and taffeta gown was made in the fashion of the early 1870s. It was made in Michigan and brought to Texas by the daughter of a lumber merchant. Some of the features of the dress are the asymmetrical draping on the overskirt, the trim of poufs around the bottom front of the skirt, shirring and knife pleating on the bottom back of the skirt and the crochet-covered iridescent pearls buttons.