Here are some of the popular fashion terms for the 1860s, a ten-year period where the abolition of slavery in the United States resulted in the breakdown of the Atlantic slave trade and a period where slaves like Biddy Mason was granted her freedom:
aumônière—a purse or a pouch.
basque—a close-fitting bodice that extends from the shoulders to the waist and frequently includes a short continuation below the waist.
basquine—a tight-fitting corset-like underbodice created from heavy fabric or material.
bouffant gown—primarily reserved for formal or special occasions, these gowns had a wide, full skirt resembling a hoop skirt or having petticoat supports underneath.
bouillonné or bouillon—Gathered or shirred bands of fabric that usually form a bubble.
chemisette—a short undergarment worn over a chemise. Also known as a tucker.
Cluny lace—a sturdy white or ivory-white bobbin lace from cotton or linen thread.
corslet—this was a bodice of whalebone or quilted jean, worn by ladies to confine and shape the torso “with one aim and object…to more fully emphasize the beautifully rounded curves of the waist and hips.”
crinoline—when it was first appeared in the 1830s it was nothing more than “stiff, unpliable stuff, adapted for making a dress stand out well from the figure.” By the 1850s, however, crinoline meant a stiffened petticoat or ridged shape and was designed to form a dress into the shape of a bell that could widen the skirt to as much as 18 feet in circumference.
engageantes—ruffles or flounces of cotton, linen, or lace that were tacked to elbow-length sleeves.
epaulettes—an ornamental shoulder piece usually worn on a jacket or coat and traditionally worn on a military uniform.
faille—a slightly ribbed, woven fabric of silk.
flounce—a type of ruffle, but with less bulk than a ruffle and achieved by fabric manipulation.
Garibaldi jacket, blouse, or shirt—popularized by the Empress Eugénie of France, this bright red wood shirt was the forerunner to the modern woman’s blouse and extremely popular the first half of the 1860s.
gimp—twisted silk, worsted, or cotton with a cord or wire running through it.
glacé—a smooth and highly polished fabric or material.
guipure lace—a heavy lace created from needlepoint or embroidery created by hand and used to trim clothing.
jet—Decorative trim that is a geological material and minor gemstone, also known as lignite. It is not a true mineral, but rather a mineraloid achieved when decaying wood suffers extreme pressure. For more information on jet, click here.
lappets—a small flap or fold used in a headdress or garment.
paletot—a woman’s fitted jacket.
passementerie—heavy embroidery or lace edgings and trimming, particularly those created from braid or gimp or covered with beads and silk.
peplum—a short gathered, flared, or pleated overskirt, frill, or flounce attached at the waist to a woman’s blouse, dress, or jacket.
redingote—an man’s overcoat that originated in the 1700s. By the late eighteenth century, it evolved into a women’s redingote that was highly tailored and tight-fitted at the chest and, by the nineteenth century was high-waisted with wrapped buttons and braids.
ruche or ruching—a strip of pleated lace, net, muslin, or other material used for trimming.
tablier—a part of a woman’s dress that resembles an apron.
tulle—a soft, fine cotton, net, or silk material.
vandyke—a broad lace or linen collar with deep cuts and large points, as worn by Sir Anthony Van Dyck in his portraits.
Venetian sleeve—slightly puffed at the shoulder with some widening at the elbow, “with chiffon undersleeves embroidered in gold threads and gathered with a narrow band of gold-lace insertion, or pearl and gold passementeries.”