As we learn about our family history and review the records, photos, and circumstances surrounding their lives, it’s always interesting to learn more about related subjects.
For example, the photograph that includes my third great aunt, Sallie John Turner, has piqued my curiosity about the fashion of the day.
Sallie John Turner, born 1880 in Southampton County, Virginia, was living in Liberty, Missouri in 1896. I have shared how Sallie somehow wound up in the household of Presbyterian minister, William Frost Bishop, who was originally from Petersburg, Virginia. Sallie’s my maternal third great aunt.
In 2015, while searching for what may have happened to Aunt Sallie, I connected with a descendant of William Frost Bishop who graciously shared a photograph of Aunt Sallie. The photo was an 1896 group picture of two of William Frost Bishop’s children-Judith Joyce and Henry Roper, Aunt Sallie, and the family dog, Diana.
I am eternally grateful to Mr. R.A. for sharing this photo of Aunt Sallie, the first time that the family has “seen” her since before the turn of the twentieth century.
Poring over this image, I’m particularly interested in the clothing that Sallie is wearing.
Perhaps most prominent in Sallie’s clothing in this portrait is her sleeve, most commonly referred to as a leg of mutton sleeve.
Just what was that and what are some other facts about the fashion of the times?
Let’s have a look:
Definition of leg of mutton sleeve:
Sleeve with full top gathered or pleated into armhole ad tapered to wrist where it looks like a regular sleeve. Size may vary-in 1895, very full sleeve requiring a yard or two of fabric were popular. Also called a French gigot sleeve, which derives from French, for ‘leg of lamb’.” (Tortora 366)Fashion History Timeline
Plaids were extremely popular in the 1880’s. This was partly due to a general interest in a romantic view of Scotland in general, and partly due to Queen Victoria’s interest in the country.Everyday Clothes—The Victorian Life
Here are more insightful links on the subject of 1890’s fashion:
Sallie would have been around the age of sixteen in the photograph, a young lady. Judith and Henry were considerably younger. Here is a newspaper advert showing examples of children’s clothing in 1896.
For context, there was lots happening in 1896, according to On This Day…
Again, there’s always more to learn as we discover more and more about our family history. Even in mystery, there is a way to fact find about many a subject. After all, learning is always in fashion.
The Genealogy Situation Room