Popular Fashion Terms for the 1880s

Here are some of the popular fashion terms for the 1880s, a decade that occurred at the core period of the Second Industrial Revolution and was part of the Gilded Age in the United States and the period where women people like Biddy Mason, Maria Mitchell, and Hetty Green made names for themselves:

aiguillette—a shoulder ornament sometimes found on military or naval uniforms that consists of braided loops ending in points.
Algerien—a new trim in 1881.

basque—a close-fitting bodice that extends from the shoulders to the waist and frequently includes a short continuation below the waist.
bastiste—fine, light fabric of linen or cotton that resembles cambric
bayadère—fabric with horizontal stripes that has strongly contrasting colors.
bouillonné—gathered or shirred bands of fabric that form a puff.
broché—a fabric woven together with a raised pattern.
broderie Anglaise—a type of floral needlework, similar to cutwork, that involves eyelets and holes and is typically created on fine white cotton or linen using white thread.

Boy's frock, white plain weave cotton with broderie anglaise, probably English, c. 1855, Courtesy of Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Boy’s frock, white plain weave cotton with broderie anglaise, probably English, c. 1855, Courtesy of Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

cheviot—wool or tweed cloth that is obtained from the Cheviot sheep.
Cluny lace—a sturdy white or ivory-white bobbin lace from cotton or linen thread.
coquillé—edging, ruching, or other trim that is shell shaped.
corsage—the upper portion of a woman’s dress.
crape—archaic spelling of crepe.
crepe de laine—fine, lightweight plain woven woolen fabric.
crépon—a fabric heavier than crepe that also has a more pronounced crinkled effect.
crinoline—a stiffened or hooped petticoat or fabric made from cotton, horsehair, or linen thread that is worn to make a long skirt bell out.
cuirasse bodice—a long, tight-fitting, and boned day bodice that reaches below the hips.

d’Angleterre lace—a bobbin lace comparable to Brussels lace.

fichu—a small triangular shawl, worn around a woman’s shoulders and neck.
flounce—a type of ruffle, but with less bulk than a ruffle and achieved by fabric manipulation.
froncé—lace, ribbon, frill, or ruffle that is tightly gathered or pleated on one edge.

Fashion terms for the 1880s - tulle fichu, July 1880

Tulle fichu, July 1880, Author’s collection.

gilet—a light sleeveless padded jacket.

mantilla—a lace or silk scarf worn by women over the hair and shoulders, particularly popular in Spain.
mantle or mantlelet—cloak
matineé—originally referred to an outdoor hooded overcoat (sometime called a pardessus in the mid 1800s) that was worn over a morning dress. However, by the late 1880s it referred to a morning jacket or breakfast robe.
morié—a type of fabric, traditionally of silk, that has a rippled or “watered” look.
mousseline—a fine, semi-opaque fabric typically created from cotton, silk, or wool that resembles muslin.

panier—bone, wire, or some other material that forms a framework and expands or puffs out a woman’s skirt at the hips.
passementerie—a French word for lace that is an elaborate and ornamental trimming or edging created from braid, beading, cord, colored silk, or thread, which may include fringe, galloons, gimps, tassels, pompons, and rosettes.
pelerine—a woman’s narrow cape that tapers to points at the center front.
peluche—another word for plush.
percale d’Alsace—a fine closely woven cotton cloth finished in various ways from France’s Alsace region.
plastron—a woman’s bodice with a decorative front that consists of colorful fabric and either lace or embroidery.
plissé—a treated fabric that has a permanent crinkled or puckered effect.
polonaise—a woman’s dress with a tight bodice that has an open skirt and is looped up to display a decorative underskirt.
poult de soie—a plain woven usually solid colored silk fabric with ribs.

fashion terms for the 1880s - polonaise

Misses Polonaise Costume,’ September 1883. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

revers—the turned-back edge of a garment that reveals the fabric’s underneath, particularly at the lapel.
rotonde—short circular mantle which matches a dress.

tabliers—part of a dress that looks like an apron and is sometimes called a pinafore.
torsade—a decorative or ornamental braid or ribbon that is twisted and often used for hat ornamentation.
tournure—bustle or sometimes a reference to the dress worn over the bustle.

vandyke—a broad lace or linen collar with deep cuts and large points, as worn by Sir Anthony Van Dyck in his portraits.
viole—a light, sheer, plain-woven fabric of cotton, rayon, silk, or wool.

zephyr—fine, lightweight cloth, such as gingham, or a fine, lightweight garment or yarn.

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