What IS calico? Where did it come from, and who used it to fashion clothing in the nineteenth century? Why did Calico appeal to working women? Why was Calico the fabric of choice for Calico Balls?
19th Century Ladies Fashions included gigantic sleeves known by many names: Leg of Mutton, Marquise, Balloon, etc. Highly fashionable, women wore them to work at home, to “walk out”, to sit for photographs, and on their wedding days. Highly fashionable for a period of time in the 1890s (through the turn of the century), they’ve returned at least twice: mid 1980s and in 2016. A favorite? You decide.
Despite the voice of reason from scientists of the day, medical doctors, dress reformers, nineteenth century women continued to cling to advertisements claiming health depended upon corsets and laced tightly to achieve the beautiful figure they desired. Advertisements didn’t promote mere beauty–they went so far as to claim health. A newspaper article published in Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois, on April 24, 1897 spoke of Roentgen’s Light–X-rays–and the malformation caused by lacing. Today, the argument seems sound, prudent, and almost laughable that anyone fell for corsets.
In the 19th century American West, Gingham was more than checked fabric made of cotton–it was also striped. Any woven cotton cloth made of pre-dyed alternating threads (plaid, striped, or checked) was called gingham. Why would pioneers (or frontiersman, or Old West women) select gingham? What made this fabric practical? Why would we name an anthology with Gingham in the title?
Harper’s Bazar (also spelled ‘Bazaar’, later on) is a Ladies Magazine founded in the Victorian Era. This article highlights bathing costumes (swimming suits) featured in Harper’s Bazar from the 1870s through early 1890s.