Women's Clothing at 1860
By 1860, the popularity of the newly invented sewing machine made possible the expansion of women's wardrobes. Aniline dyes (made from coal tar) were new and produced brighter colors than natural dyes (made from plants) and did not fade as quickly. Bright colors and complex designs that appear strident and rather wild to our modern tastes were popular. Skirts were wide, which made waists appear tiny. Corsets contributed to this effect by establishing trim lines over which close-fitting bodices could sit smoothly. Women wore more layers underneath their outfits than in earlier times.
Navigate to each layer of this activity by clicking on the "Next" and "Previous" buttons. Using your cursor, roll over each image to learn about the unfamiliar clothing. (requires Flash Player)
Non-flash, non-interactive, printable version of this activity
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