Red Printed Cotton Dress

Red Printed Cotton Dress

About 1815

Style: This dress’s extra-long sleeves with gathered cuffs extending over the hands, as well as its back fastening, are characteristic of dresses after 1810. The low neckline continues to dominate fashion, but it is filled in with a chemisette (dickey) or kerchief.

Fabric: While white remained popular, women also wore darker and richer hues, especially for daytime. Americans loved bright hues, and brighter and darker colors were also more practical because they did not show direct as readily.

The color in this dress is probably from the root of the madder plant that was the basis for many red dye recipes. Madder could yield a range of colors from orange to red to brown, depending on how the dyer prepared the dyebath.

Roller-printed dress and reproduction chemisette, private collection; modern ribbon trim.