Polka-dot Printed Dress
Style: This simple dress attests to American women’s ability to keep up with European fashions while modifying them to suit simpler middle-class American taste and budgets. The bodice has been lengthened to keep up with fashion, and the flounce is superimposed atop a simple self-pleat, which would have updated the dress when skirt hems began to be accentuated with ruffles and trims. Hem accents appeared late in the first decade of the 1800s and increased in volume and complexity as skirts began to widen after 1810. The dress’s relatively narrow skirt (84 inch hem circumference) may place its original construction closer to 1810.
Fabric: A cheerful print of good quality but modest cost is made up with a fashionable crossover (surplice) bodice and a small flounce.
Dress, cotton, United States, private collection; reproduction chemisette, private collection; coral necklace courtesy of Dames à la Mode.
Portrait of Ann Phillips Lovering by Ethan Allen Greenwood, 1818. (detail). DAR Museum 90.218.1. Friends of the Museum Purchase, in honor of Mrs. Charles A. Bloedorn.