Backmark: “S. Piper, 864 Elm St., Manchester, N.H.”
Date: Original image c. 1860
Location: Manchester, N.H.
Note: The style of dress in this photo predates the invention of the Cabinet Card, so I believe that this is a reprint of an older photograph.
Dress: This woman wears a one-piece dress, attached skirt and bodice, of silk. The fabric appears to be solid-coloured. Her bodice is darted fitted, opens up center front with concealed hooks and eyes, and decorated with a row of ornamental buttons
Her sleeves, while not completely out of style in the late 1850s and early 1860s, were certainly unusual for the time. They are probably made in two parts- the top section sewn onto a tight lower section. I am not aware of a specific name for this cut of sleeve, either period or modern. Gigot or leg’o’mutton always seemed to me to most accurately describe the one-piece sleeves that are puffed at the top and narrow at the cuff (after all, a leg of lamb is in one piece!). At first glance this woman’s sleeve resembles the gigot, but I think the shape is different enough that it deserves another name.
Her full skirt is worn over a wide hoop or cage crinoline. The skirt is knife-pleated into the waist, with the pleats facing towards center front. Her skirt is trimmed in several horizontal bands. I can’t tell exactly what the trimming is, but a good possibility is that it is rows of self-fabric ruched up the center to from two puffs, and outlined top and bottom with velvet ribbon.
She wears a watch fob suspended from her belt- the watch is tucked into a small, vertical watch-pocket. The majority of watch-pockets that I have seen on original garments are horizontal and on the left side of the dress (PL), but vertical pockets do show up occasionally.
Her dress is finished with narrow, flat white collar, pinned at the throat with a brooch.
Hair: Instead of trying to tame naturally curly hair into the smooth hairstyles popular during the mid-victorian period, many curly-headed women preferred to wear them in controlled ringlets. We would call them “banana curls.” This woman conforms to the style of the period by center-parting her hair, oiling it, and setting it into uniform ringlets.