Woman’s Day Dress
Litchfield County, about 1845
Gift of Barbara Kane, 1987.210.0
During the middle of the 19th century, printed cottons became popular for women’s day dresses. Although New England was home to many factories where printed cottons were made, some fabrics and influences for printed designs still came from places such as England and India. This hand-stitched day dress features alternating blue and brown stripes with Indian-inspired motifs. Small cap sleeves over long narrow sleeves, the pointed, fan-front bodice, and full skirt make this dress the epitome of 1840s fashion. This style of dress could be worn for any number of daily activities, and a woman’s status would have dictated whether such a dress would be an every-day garment or one saved for more public appearances at church or in town.
The Connecticut Historical Society’s collection of clothing and accessories numbers more than 5,000 items, making it one of the largest in New England. Although the collection includes elegant examples—such as a gown worn to President Lincoln’s inaugural ball and a coat worn by Colonel Jeremiah Wadsworth at the court of Louis XVI of France—working- and middle-class clothes, including rare examples from the 18th century, are particularly well represented.