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Date of your Antique Dress ARTICLE 1 Edwardian Couture by Lisa Schnapp on 02-26-2009
Reply from Dress Detective Lisa at Bustledress.com:I believe this Edwardian gown was either used as: 1) A formal/ important evening event for a young married lady of status (high tea with the Vanderbuilts?).
At any rate, most likely the event was at the lady's home, due to the fact that most Edwardian tea gowns were considered "comfortable" home wrappers worn by a society hostess.
With the additional formality of the delicate details ("catching" of the metallic lace, rounded, but uneven mine-cut rhinestone buttons, etc.) the bulk of her train, carriage or car traveling would not make travel an easy feat. So it is far less likely (I believe) that she would dare try to leave home while wearing this eye-catching gown.
My second choice: 2) Used for high tea, or dinner at home or a friend's home, then the opera or reception, but I feel my first choice is probably the closest. I'll explain my conclusions...
Tea gowns made for home or visiting use, began to show up earnestly again in abundance around the 1905-1908 time period. The 1876-1880 period was the first period "Princess" gowns enjoyed great popularity. Originally, Charles Frederick Worth created the body flattering, smooth styling for the lovely Princess of Wales in 1876 and Princess styling became an overnight sensation. By the 1880's, the fad had faded, but came back again in the mid Edwardian period and the cut still in great use today.
The most telling detail for the dating of this Edwardian gown was the bodice detail lining inside, the silk taffeta foundation lining of the inside bodice...
See, very detailed silk taffeta foundation linings with extreme boning, French seams and bound edges were no longer used after 1905. (After 1905 there was no longer a bodice foundation requirement standard in gowns, so gowns made afterward had either much less structured inner bodice foundations, or, the inner bodices became nonexistent, except for couturier gowns, which nearly always utilized some type inner foundation.)
This gown was at the height of fashion of it's period, the bodice shape starting to flatten and lose the "blousen" pigeon front of the earlier portion of the decade. (Some dresses maintained an amount of blousen front until the late Edwardian period.) But, still retained the early era styled netted modesty lace, and lace lining panel and even the bodice neckline adjustment ties of earlier gowns rather than later Edwardian styling, so we know the liner is c.1905.