I have a new ball-jointed-doll that I am planning to have be my model Christine. Unfortunately, finding appropriate clothing for her is extremely difficult. I am going to have to have some made, I think, and while I can find a lot of information about Victorian England, Belle-Epoch France is somewhat more difficult to research! So, I am asking you, as you are the expert! (continued on message 2)
2) What would Christine have worn? Did women of her age, time period, and social class only wear dresses, or wear skirts and blouses, perhaps with a jacket as well? Shoes only, or boots? Cloaks or coats? What would she wear at home–was there an equivalent of the Victorian “tea gown”? Corsets always? Pantalettes? Chemises? Hats? What kind of stockings? Were there any color restrictions? Any information you can give me would be gratefully appreciated! Thanks!
OoOooh, the 1860s-1890s is a surprisingly hard period to summon up in a short reply. I’ll do my best still!
A woman’s wardrobe of the second half of the 19th century would of course depend on her class. The higher the class, the more changes a day, and the more specific the garments. Queen Maud of Norway, and also her mother Queen Alexandra, is said to have changed clothes up to 7 times a day: morning wear, sportswear, walking suits, teagowns, dinner dresses, opera attires, maybe also additional representation wear and/or ball gowns. Lower classes changed less times a day, but wearing two different attires for day and evening was quite common. You changed for dinner if you had any kind of manners!
Christine is a bit of an in-betweener, class wise, at least in the first half of the story/show. She’s an orphan, she is a working girl in a semi-respectable profession. At the same time she’s under the wings of Mama Valerius, whose late husband was a professor, and who seems to have had some funding she did not mind spending on Christine. So she’s not an aristrocrat or rich burgeroise mademoiselle, but not a poor one either. She would probably try and keep up with fashion, but wear practical stuff for work. Wools instead or silk, or at least not lots of drapes and decorations and huge bustles.
Christine’s wardrobe would most likely consist of (from inner to outer): chemises/shifts/blouses, bloomers and stockings, corsets, bodice and skirt. For outdoor use she would also wear a hat and a cloak or jacket/dolman, plus gloves and shoes/boots. The fashion in Paris did not differ from that in London in this aspect, except brits always considered Parisian fashion to be more impractival and frilly. But also smarter.
The most common combo of the mid/late 19th century was a fitted bodice with matching skirt. The skirt could have various drapes and trains - the more extravagant occasion, the more extravagant skirt. Evening bodices would show cleavage and often bare arms, while day bodices were often long-sleeved and high-necked. Some tailors made two separate day + evening bodices for the same skirt (transofrmation dresses), so you could mix and match. Here’s a green 1860s example, and here’s an 1872 dress by Charles Frederick Worth with evening bodice, day bodice and detachable train (from The Met):
Another popular transformation thing was to fill in the neckline during the day, and open it up a bit for later in the evening, to wear it as a dinner dress or similar. Though this doesn’t show the same dress, you get the main idea:
To see more period wear, here’s a link showing fashionable garments from 1870-90, from the Kyoto Costume Institute:
If you can get a hold of their (very reasonable and popular) Taschen-published book as well, you’ll see lots more examples with accessories, and a majority of them are French. Albeit they show finer upper class attires for the most, they are good examples of typical silhouettes and ideals, and shows what every Parisian lady would strive for. The skirt-and-blouse combo would not be terribly fashionable in Paris at this point. It came into fashion in the 1890s and onwards; before that it was considered a more rural style. So I wouldn’t dress Christine in that unless it was to underline her rural Swedish background.
In the second half of the story/show, she is Raoul’s fiancé and albeit a secret it would probably affect her wardrobe slightly. If only that he gifted her items, or maybe even had a tailor make her stuff. I always assumed that was what the blue Wishing dress in the show indicates, though I can also see the opera staff loving her and helping her out with splendid garments in secret…
But still, always a corset, usually separate but matching bodice and skirt, and fabric, cleavage and accessories fit for the occasion. :)
As for colours black and purple was usually only done for mourning, so again - unless you wanna make a point by using them specifically, stay clear of them. Clothes in alternating b/w, or black and purple, or purple and white, are usually signs of half-mourning, so use those combos with care. White was usually for young girls and brides, which is also helpful to have in mind.
Synthetic dye (anilin) was discovered in 1858, which resulted in an insane love for anything super bright, so feel free to go nuts with colours. Pink wasn’t a “girl colour” at this point. Sky blue was the colour of young girls, something still seen in fairytales and movies - Belle in BATB, Alice in Wonderland, Christine in Maria Bjørnson’s design. It’s a good colour to underline the typical “young and spirited girl” flair. :)
If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask :)
(ALSO - HOW ABOUT RECREATING “THE LOST DRESS”?!?)