Saturday, January 28, 2012

Early 1870s Dresses in the Ballroom

However fashionable it may be to wear very long dresses, those ladies who go to a ball with the intention of dancing and enjoying the dance, should cause their dresses to be made short enough to clear the ground.
We would ask them whether it is not better to accept this slight deviation from an absurd fashion, than to appear for three parts of the evening in a torn and pinned-up skirt?

(Ball-Room Dancing Without a Master. Hurst & Company, 1872. p. 9.)

I always wondered how the girls in Too Early, James Tissot's 1873 painting, would manage to dance once the rest of the guests arrived and the musicians began to play. Judging from the dance manual, really dedicated dancers would wear ballgowns without trains.
I think these women would go ahead and dance in their long skirts and trains, accepting damage as it (almost inevitably) happened. I am certain they would not hike their skirts up around their knees to keep them safe. Trains were meant to trail along the floor and it would have been awkward to make them do otherwise.

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