This beautiful ball or dinner gown, circa mid 1830s, exhibits the popular fashion of the period with its wide neckline, small waist, bell shaped skirt and full "beret" sleeves, a variation of the gigot sleeve. It is made of rose silk bengaline with a lined bodice and back closure with hooks and eyes.
This excerpt from an 1835 Ladies Cabinet describes the middle scan of the three plates that we have included in the photos. It reads, "The corsage is low and square, it is trimmed with a lappel formed of horizontal fold . . . . and ornamented with knots of ribbon on the shoulders." This could easily be used to describe the present example with the neckline framed with horizontal folds and trimmed on the sleeve caps as well as center front and back with bows of the same fabric. The sleeves are similar to those referred to in the same publication as beret sleeves. The fullness would have been filled with down sleeve fillers as illustrated on page 201 of the book, Fashion, featuring the collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute. The illustration shows they type of undergarments that would have been worn under this gown to help achieve the desired profile.
Overall the condition of this gown is very good to excellent. There is a small amount of wear at the back waistline however this is minimal. There is also some fading of the fabric, most noticeable on the skirt as well as on the sleeves. Even so, none of these minor flaws detract from the beauty or desirability of this rare, early gown.