Fashion - Evening 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 image features Adelicia in a dress which could have been used as an evening or dinner dress dating from 1866 or 1867. It is one of the few images in which she is not wearing a walking dress or visiting dress. The dinner, or evening dress, she is wearing would have been worn at a formal dinner party or to an evening event such as a concert or party. Around the middle of the 1860’s the volume of the skirt began to accumulate at the back, and though this photograph does not feature a distinct bustle, there is a lengthening of the back of the skirt creating a very brief train. Trains also became more distinctive during this time. Adelicia’s dress demonstrates the shifting style of the mid 1860’s.

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Belmont Blvd & Acklen Avenue 

Nashville, TN 37212


1900 Belmont Blvd

Nashville, TN 37212


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The architecture of Belmont Mansion makes it one of the most significant homes of 19th century Tennessee.

Sold by the Acklen family in 1887, the house went to a developer who began one of Nashville’s early suburbs.

It was then purchased by two women who in 1890 started a college which evolved into Belmont University. Today the Belmont Mansion Association, which was formed in 1972, owns the collection, runs the museum, and shares this unique story of 19th century Nashville with visitors from far and near.

Photos by Ed Houk