28. 1894 Dress, Wm. Stitt and Co.

Ribbed silk dinner dress made in Toronto
about 1894

Another piece of fashion finery. From what one can find in museums and private collections, it might be thought that the ladies and gentlemen of this time only wore the finest of imported fabrics, cut into elaborate fashionable shapes. But no, these were special pieces, and like this convertible day to evening dress, were rarely worn, and were carefully preserved, and that is why they remain. The homemade cloth, and clothes made from it, by and for average people, for every day wear, have rarely lasted, as they were worn often and worn out. Any remaining bits of salvageable cloth from them were coveted, and converted into other goods for continued practical use, such as quilts.

“Lilac corded silk trimmed with darker velvet and passementerie. Two-piece. Fitted and boned under bodice. sightly pointed bodice. Fronts and back have pleats radiating to square e neckline trimmed with velvet and passementerie. Hooked front opening. Short puffed sleeves gathered into armhole. Slightly trained, gored, skirt gauged at centre back… There is a high-collared yoke which fits under neckline of dress and narrow wrist-length sleeves to tack puffed sleeves making dress suitable for daytime wear.”*

The skirt’s inside waistband reads “Wm. Stitt and Co, Toronto”. They, along with O’Brien, also in Toronto, the tailor G.M. Holbrook, in Ottawa, and Montréal ladies’ tailor J.J. Milloy, were patronized by the Canadian elite. The labelling of goods originated in Paris, by couturier Charles Worth, slightly earlier in the century, but this practice had yet to be followed by most Canadian dressmakers. Those listed above did, and their labels marked them as being among the finest tailors and dressmakers of this period.

*Modesty to Mod
Dress and Underdress in Canada
Royal Ontario Museum
University of Toronto