A few months ago, my Aunt MB sent me two dresses that her mother (my grandmother) wore as a child. Aunt MB's granddaughters, the daughters of my cousins, each had their pictures taken in these dresses and Buttercup was next in line. I was very excited to get the dresses, but confess I know very little about them. My grandmother was born in 1901 and it is my understanding that she wore these dresses as a child/young woman, but I'm not sure how old she was when she wore them. (A little research put me at roughly 1914 - the dresses look very much like the "1914 Afternoon Dress Pattern" I found here. The math makes these dresses close to 100 years old. Can you imagine? The dresses are made out of a fine lawn...tissue thin. The workmanship is exquisite. There is even a chemise to go under them. They are so delicate, I was afraid to even put them on Buttercup. We finally got brave enough last week and I thought I'd show you the results of our dress-up day.
Doesn't she look like an elegant little girl from a bygone era?
Clothing has changed a lot in 100 years. Buttercup felt awkward with the chemise and I had no idea how to deal with some of the buttons and hooks and layers. (We put the first dress on backwards at first.)
I think little girls have changed a lot in 100 years, too. Buttercup's shoulders at just-turned-11 were actually too broad for either of the dresses and the scyes (arm-holes) were too high and too small for Buttercup's arms. Finally, we couldn't close the backs on anything...if my grandmother wore these dresses as a young woman of 14 or 15, she must have been a tiny thing. That, or corsets hadn't yet been abandoned in Kentucky in 1915 (which is also likely). Dresses like the two I had the privilege of "playing" with were definitely NOT designed with active, athletic little girls in mind.
After the pictures were taken, we packed the dresses back up. Now that my youngest brother has a little girl, she's next in line to try on a few pieces of family history. Maybe her mom will know how to wash and iron these beautiful dresses. As for me? I was too afraid to do more than slip them on and off Buttercup.