Costume Ladies demonstrate versatility of 1800s fashion

Album 1

[Click on photos below to enlarge.]

[August 27, 2013]     Send a link to a friend 

In the mid-1800s, women of social standing were faced with the challenges of traveling by horse and buggy to events that sometimes began at midday and ran into the night. Women might travel several miles in a small buggy with their spouses to spend an afternoon at tea with friends. Then as the evening approached, a gala event would be planned that required more formal attire.

Because space was limited, they couldn't always carry a wide variety of gowns with them, so they learned to fashion their clothing so that the addition, subtraction or switching of a few key pieces would turn dress day wear into formal evening wear.

Sunday morning Dorothy Sellinger and Linda Cox, known locally as the Costume Ladies, gave a presentation of how women in the 1860s made the desired transformation from day to evening. In the course of their talk, Cox assisted Sellinger in getting dressed, first for an afternoon tea, then for an evening ball.

Pictures by Nila Smith


Carroll Richards welcomed visitors into the Postville Courthouse

Sellinger and Cox wait to begin their presentation.

The ensemble that will be used.


The first pieces are all undergarments or foundations. It begins with the chemise, which is set off the shoulder for evening wear. 

All of the clothing with the exception of the gloves was made by Cox.

After the chemise come the stockings.

Next comes the pantaloons.


Now for the corset.

Following the slip is the hoop.


After the corset comes a slip.

Click here to go to Album 2.


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