CDV: French Woman

French Woman, c. 1860

CDV: French Woman, c. 1860

Backmark: None

Date: c. 1860

Subject: Woman

Location: Unknown. Purchased in Paris, France.

Note: I only assume this is a frenchwoman because I bought the CDV in Paris.  Nothing about her dress looks particularly French to me.

This woman wears a one-piece dress composed of a bodice and skirt, made of what is probably a heavy silk or silk/wool mix.
The bodice is darted to fit, with a pleat from shoulder to bustline.  Whether this pleat was incorporated into the shoulder seam or happened naturally is unclear, but this particular shoulder-to-bust pleat was popular from the 1840s through the 60s.  It gave an attractive, crisp line from shoulder to bust, and emphasized the hourglass shape.

The sleeves are fitted at the armscye, and open up wide at the wrist.  This shape sleeve was common in the late 1850s and early 60s, and older women wore it throughout the decade.  Modern costume historians sometimes call this a “modified pagoda”

The skirt is full and worn over a cage crinoline.

Her dress is trimmed on the bodice and sleeves with bars, probably made of a flat tape.  A white collar, undersleeves, and brooch at the neck complete the look.

She wears her hair center parted and rolled in soft puffs towards her face.  Her hair is coiled relatively high, i.e. no lower than her hairline, which indicates either an early photograph date (closer to 1859 than the mid 60s), or that she is an older woman slightly behind the current fashions.  She completes the look with a decorated hairnet with a tassel (or feather or clump of ribbons, the photograph is unclear).

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