Pleated pigeon-front bodice 1900s black wool | S-M

1900s clothing

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Size: approx. S-M *
Bust: 40” flat (at cotton lining), to fit approx. 38-39”
Under-bodice hem/lower ribcage: 33” flat, to fit approx. 32”
Hem width: 44” flat, when sash is not tied
Length: 20” from shoulder to hem in front/back of neck to hem
Underarm to hem length: 13”
Underarm to hem of under-bodice/ribcage: 6”
Sleeve length: 23”
*Shoulder to shoulder: 13.25” (this is much smaller than a modern M shoulder would be)*
Label: none

This late Victorian “pigeon-front” or pleated front bodice or blouse is made of crisp, black wool woven with a tiny white dots pattern. It has black velvet trim and full, bishop sleeves with fitted cuffs. The squared-end collar and the front of the bust have black velvet ribbon accents. The velvet ribbon stripes on the bust emphasize the pleats that extend down from the shoulders to the hem. These flat pleats create a lot of fullness at the front of the bodice (hence the “pigeon-front” description), which is cinched in when worn by a narrow velvet ribbon sash—probably not intended to be seen, but rather tucked into the high-waisted skirt that would cover the bodice hem. This cinched-in, pleated front was meant to puff out over the skirt waistband in similar fashion to the early 1990s advertisement in our last photo. In back, the bodice has seaming to create the desired, hourglass silhouette. It flares out a bit below the fitted waist, with 2 small slits at the lower edge of the back hem. The sleeves are quite full, with the widest part located just above where they are gathered into the fitted sleeve cuffs. The visible, outer layer of the bodice is fastened with 3 pressed glass buttons. (The buttons stop well above the bodice hem, probably at the point at which the skirt waistband would cover the bodice, when worn.) Underneath, tan polished cotton functions as a lining for the back of the bodice and sleeves, but it is not fully attached to the full, pleated front section. It is sewn to the shoulder section of the outer bodice in front, but not at the hem. Instead, it forms a fitted under-bodice. This front-only under-layer fastens with shell buttons, extending to the bottom of the ribcage (ending just above the natural waist/high skirt waistband). This circa late 1800s or very early 1900s, black wool antique bodice has some discoloration to the cotton lining fabric (not seen when worn), and some creasing to the velvet ribbon sash ties from long storage, folded. It is in very good condition, with no other issues to note. In fact, it is in fantastic condition for its age! We have had it recently (carefully) dry-cleaned, and it came through with no issues--although I would recommend gentle handling in future, due to its age.