In the nineteenth century the appearance of a man’s or woman’s clothes was regulated not only by fashion but also by the rules of social etiquette. For anyone who wished to stand well in society it was essential for clothing to be appropriate to the person’s station in life, to the occasion and to the time of day. These considerations affected the form of garments, their material, colour and decoration. An understanding and observance of such conventions had long been accepted as social duty amongst the middle and upper classes, as important as good manners and correct deportment; and while an excessive concern with personal appearance and fashion was considered vulgar, a due respect for the rituals of dress was expected.

Good taste, good sense, and refinement are required in the selection of costume. A woman of good sense will not wish to expend in unnecessary extravagances money wrung from an anxious, laborious husband; or if her husband be a man of fortune, she will not, even then, encroach upon her allowance.

Dress for Morning Calls

The dress should be of black or neutral tint silk with light colors introduced in small quantities; collar and cuffs of the finest lace; light gloves; a full dress bonnet and jewelry of gold, cameo or coral. Diamonds are not usually worn in daylight.

The Promenade Dress

All the colors worn should harmonize. The bonnet, parasol, dress and gloves should be of the same color or in harmony. Collars and cuffs should be of lace, kid gloves should harmonize with the color of the dress and be a perfect fit. Jewelry worn should be bracelets, cuff-buttons, plan gold ear-rings, a watch-chain and brooch. Opera Dress The promenade dress with the addition of a handsome cloak or shawl, which may be thrown aside if it is uncomfortable, is suitable for a theatre. The dress should be quiet and plain, without any attempt at display.

Opera dress

for matinees may be as elegant as for morning calls. A headdress is generally worn. In the evening ladies are at liberty to wear evening dresses, with ornaments in their hair, instead of a bonnet. Gloves should be dark, harmonizing with the dress.

Evening Dress

Silks are the most appropriate for this dress, but all the heavy woolen dress fabrics for winter, and the lighter lawns and organdies for summer, elegantly made, are suitable.

Dress for Social Party

Dresses should cover the arms and shoulders; but if cut low in the neck, and with short sleeves, puffed illusion waists or some similar device should be employed to cover the neck and arms. Gloves should be of some light color.

 Costumes – As we hope to be involved in some SA175 events this year please check the authenticity of the style of your costumes. We are not genuine (no zips) but we try to replicate 1836-1900 (preferably to 1880) styles for dress and hats (men also). Please see Jan or Maralyn or library books for how you could be altering an outfit to better represent the era. Jan is willing to help out to with ideas or will add lace, gathering, petticoats etc at a small cost.

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Contact Us.

Address: P.O. Box 608, North Adelaide, South Australia, 5006
Telephone: 08 8277 0738
E-mail: pc@adelaidecolonialdancers.asn.au