Fashion - Blue Walking Dress

The 19th century was a time of great change in women's fashion. The century began with high waistlines and straight skirts, and by the 1850s, the style had evolved into a more natural waistline and full skirt. Adelicia Acklen's clothing choices showcase the most fashionable trends from Europe and North America during that time. Follow Belmont Mansion as we embark on a nine part series showcasing the dresses, jewelry, and fashion choices of Adelicia Acklen.


This walking, or visiting dress, is an excellent example of the general hourglass silhouette which was popular from the 1830’s through the 1860’s. Its shape is marked by sloping shoulders, a fitted bodice emphasizing the smallest part of the waist, and an A-line outward through the skirt which create a distinctive hourglass figure. Though there were certainly variances between the decades, one of which being the gradual expansion of the skirt's berth from the 1840’s through 1860’s, this stock hourglass silhouette dominated the first two thirds of Adelicia’s life. One aspect that helps date this particular garment is the slight accent in volume at the back of the skirt. Another aspect is her hairstyle which seems to be plaited, rather than smooth and sweeping, which would date this photograph to the mid-eighteen sixties. One aspect that is also typical of the period is the militaristic sash. Feminized militaristic embellishments were extremely popular in street dress in the 1850’s and 1860’s