pink taffeta ballgown bodice, ca. 1855

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 pink taffeta ballgown bodice, ca. 1855 

A beautiful rarely found mid 19th century ballgown, with it’s puffed tulle sleeves and modesty neckline still intact. The fact that this ballgown bodice had a modesty neckline and tulle oversleeves, suggests that it was most likely worn by a young lady. A very low uncovered neckline would have been thought to be too indecent for a teenage girl to wear to a ball.

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modesty neckline

The bodice is made out of pink silk taffeta with a white cotton lining. The taffeta is in strong condition but does have severe fading. The front of the bodice and the front of the cap sleeves are nearly white, while the back is still the original pink.

back of the bodice still has the original pink color

It’s lined with 8 whalebones, however the middle bone is missing.

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whalebone lining

The back fastens with lacing but the lacing is gone and needs a new long thin lace to lace it up. All the holes are hand-finished. The back of the bodice originally had fan pleating but only the left side still has the pleats and the right side is left with a remnant of the pleating (see photo below).


This is still attached to the right shoulder seam. The shoulder seams are dropped and piped. The pointed V waistline is double piped as well. The low scooped neckline has runching all around it, and the white tulle modesty piece is sewn into the neckline and fastens at the back with a mother of pearl button (1 is missing). The tulle sleeves consist of a short puffed tulle sleeve with the long puffed sleeve sewn over it. All this is sewn under the short pink silk cap sleeve.


There is some light yellow underarm staining but thankfully, the padding added inside the lining at the underarm and bust area to enhance the bustline has stopped most of it from seeping through to the outside fabric. The tulle is for the most part, in excellent condition considering the fragility of it. There is a little hole in the modesty neckline piece at the left shoulder and the odd rust spot on the sleeves but other than that, they are fine. The sleeve cuffs have slots for adding baby ribbon too. The bodice has general wear and very light water marks from use, age and storage but is still lovely to display. Measurements: Bust 32″, Waist 24 1/2″.

source: Corsets & Crinolines

Visit Corset & Crinolines website for many more gorgeous costumes for sale! For more inspirational images of costume pieces from the same era see also: The Graceful Lady.

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