Period Fashions Reference Library

Finishing Touches

Hairstyles and Fashion Accessories for 1890's Evening Attire

A quick guide to the finishing touches appropriate to an 1890's evening ensemble.
The majority of the text is straight from original period sources, many with accompanying illustrations.


Tiaras of jewels are less worn this season than last, even by the grand dames and rich young matrons. The coiffures are simple, being close to the head, yet waved on the sides, and dressed at the back neither high or low, but between. The forehead is left uncovered as much as possible, and the hair, after being parted, is held down closely with very small jeweled side combs.

Harper's Bazar, 1 December 1894
1890's low coiffure 1890's high coiffure

This image is from the early 1890's, the hair is dressed fairly close to the head with curled fringe at the forehead and fairly high buns. This plate also shows a ready-made bun, with small coronet attached, one can store in a box and plop on one's head with no fuss at all. Note also the triple strand necklace and small drop bead (pearl?) earrings and ostrich(?) feather puff aigrette..


Harper's Bazar, 16 January 1892

This hairstyle from 1893 comes with instructions!

Lady's Coiffure.

To carry out this coiffure successfully the hair should be quite dry and fluffy, free from grease. The front hair is divided off and parted jauntily on the left side. Just back of this a tress is plaited and pinned down as a sort of foundation. The upper part of the front hair is drawn back loosely and pinned, then twisted, and coiled first into a small loop that rests in the parting, then brought down along the right side as illustrated. The back hair is divided across, and the upper part with part of the front hair added is twisted and coiled around over the first coil. The lower part is drawn up in a small knot with an open loop above. A small shell comb is thrust into the knot.

Harper's Bazar, 22 April 1893

Harper's Bazar, 22 April 1893

The following 2 hairstyles are fairly late in the 1890's, notice how full the hair is, it is the very beginning of the Gibson Girl pompadour style.

Figure 1: Evening Coiffure.

1. In this coiffure the hair is arranged in large loose waves, the front formed into a soft Pompadour and the back fluffed out at the neck. The hair is rolled into three horizontal puffs across the back, with three tiny ringlet puffs at the sides. For ornaments there are three shell combs, two close to the puffs at the sides, and one at the back. A knot of ribbon is toward the side at the top, and this holds a few artificial ringlets in place.

Harper's Bazar, 9 January 1897

Evening Coiffure
Harper's Bazar, 9 January 1897

Figure 2: Evening Coiffure.

2. In this figure there is the same general arrangement, but instead of the three puffs the hair is divided into three strands, which are intertwined into a knot, the ends finishing in fluffy ringlets. A pink chiffon chou holds the stem of an aigrette.

Harper's Bazar, 9 January 1897

Evening Coiffure
Harper's Bazar, 9 January 1897


It is very much the fashion for women who have handsome jewels to wear them, and in spite of the hard times it was no uncommon sight last winter to see not only one row of solitaire diamonds but four or five. More than one woman in New York has literally ropes of pearls, and Mrs. William Astor's throat and neck have been entirely covered by her wonderful strings of pearls, or a broad black velvet collar completely covered with diamond ornaments. While jewels are undoubtedly very beautiful, and extremely dazzling worn in such quantities, it is a doubtful question whether they are anything like as becoming as a double or even single row of pearls or diamonds with a handsome clasp. And as the great majority of women in the world are not possessed of such fabulous wealth of jewels, it is satisfactory to know that the simplest of ornaments are in reality the most becoming.

Harper's Bazar, 1 December 1894

Tiaras are seen frequently, often with rhinestones and pearls in both gold and silver, short bead necklaces, often with multiple strands, bracelets, of pearls or gold are also quite fashionable. Earrings can be dangles, either long or short.


Evening Toilette
Harper's Bazar, 8 February 1896

Pearl chokers are worn fairly often, as well as jeweled necklaces and short bead necklaces. Pins and brooches are usually worn at the center front neckline, in gold, with colored stones or pearls. Flowers or small feather headdresses can decorate the hair


A Paris Dinner Gown
Harper's Bazar, 24 February 1894



A large fan also makes an excellent accessory; ostrich-father fans are very popular, as well as silk satin and sheer organdy, plain in a color to match or compliment the gown, painted or spangled.

Fans and Fan-Bags.

A Black silk fan with gold lines and scrolls framing a delicate water-color painting has a new style of frame, which surrounds the fan entirely when it is closed, and can be opened by pressure on a spring-catch. A view of the fan closed is given in the illustration.
Another large fan shown has a gilded frame and a shallow spangled black net cover, in which a painted silk panel is inserted. Here and there among the fans of large and medium size the small empire fan is beginning to make its appearance again. That illustrated has ivory sticks with gold ornamentation, and a white Japanese crape cover with a border of applique lace and gold spangles.
For the fragile beauty of many handsome fans a fan pocket is a necessary protection, and several are illustrated herewith. One for a large ostrich-feather fan is made of light brocade lined with turquoise satin. It is twenty-two inches long, four inches wide at the lower end, seven at the upper end, but is considerably widened by inserted sides two inches wide. A ribbon draw- string is four inches below the top. White lace eight inches deep is gathered around the outside, and another five inches deep around the inside of the draw-string casing. A smaller bag, made of copper-colored broché ribbon four inches wide, is seventeen inches long, and open four inches deep at the top. It is lined with India silk, and one side is bordered with gold- threaded lace which terminates under a ribbon bow near the lower end. A third, made of black and pink brocade lined with pink satin, has for a flap a spangled passementerie point, and is completed by bows and loops of pink ribbon.

Harper's Bazar, 24 November 1894

Fans and Fan-Bags.

Large ostrich feather fans are fairly common 1890's evening accessories. They are usually in black, white or a color to compliment the gown.


A Paris Dinner Gown
Harper's Bazar, February 24, 1894.

Fans can be suspended from the waist with ribbons, specialized hooks, or chatelaines, though elaborate metal chatelaines are not recommended for dance wear as they will probably not withstand the rigors of dancing and may damage your dress or the outfit of your partner.


Evening Toilettes
Harper's Bazar, 14 January 1893


Long mousketaire gloves of suede are worn in pure white with any evening toilette, or else the faintest tinge of the color of the gown or of its trimming is seen in the kid. The gloves need not reach the short sleeve if the arms are handsome, but should always extend to the elbow.

Harper's Bazar, 9 December 1893

White undressed kid gloves are worn with full-dress evening toilette, no matter what color the gown may be and are of any length fancied, some meeting the short sleeves while others leave the round elbow exposed.

Harper's Bazar, 1 December 1894


1892 Slippers 1892 Strap Pumps

White satin slippers with pointed toes trimmed with rosettes of mousseline de soie, very large and full, are worn with dresses of any color. But white gloves and slippers give the effect of large hands and feet, and while there is nothing to vie with the white gloves, the slippers may give place to those made of the material of the gown, or else to the black satin slipper which makes the foot look very small.

Harper's Bazar, 1 December 1894

With evening toilettes stockings match the slippers, which are of the material of the dress, or else of satin, moire, or suede of the same color.

Harper's Bazar, 7 April 1894

Evening Ties and Slippers

A moderate French heel is still preferred for evening and house shoes, while the lower and broader English heel prevails for walking boots. Occasionally, however, a low heel is desired for an evening slipper, like that shown, which is of patent leather, with moderate rounded toe. Much more pointed is a slipper in a combination of alligator and patent-leather, with white silk stitching. The tie illustrated is of French kid foxed with patent-leather.

Harper's Bazar, 17 November 1894

Evening Ties and Slippers
Harper's Bazar, 17 November 1894

Evening Slippers

While the low English heel universally prevails for walking shoes, those for house and evening wear are still preferred with the curved French heel of a somewhat modified form. Slippers for full evening dress match the gown in color; those for simpler toilettes are either of light natural kid, black kid, or patent-leather. The slipper at the top of this group is of light kid, with embroidery and a ribbon bow to match on the front. On the right is a blue satin slipper, with a white lace bow and a small rhinestone buckle. A white kid slipper has the toe and the narrow strap on the instep embroidered with white and gold beads. A high black French kid slipper has a tab on the instep held by a strap with a large steel buckle. A still larger buckle of oxidized silver in Renaissance style is on the long-looped bow of a black patent-leather slipper.

Harper's Bazar, 18 January 1896

Evening Ties and Slippers
Harper's Bazar, 18 January 1896


Evening Cloaks

Large warm luxurious cloaks, enveloping the wearer like a domino, are worn in the evening. They are made of faced-cloths of light shades, of rich brocades, satin, bengaline, of the shot mirror velvet, with much trimming of fur, often of ermine, or the crinkled fur of the Thibet goat, called also mandarin lamb. Sometimes they are a single great circle of pink, blue, tan, or rose cloth warmly lined and mounted, with a full shoulder-cape of velvet of darker shade bordered with fur, and having a high flaring collar. The brocades make full Watteau garments with the distinctive pleat in the back, while others are half-fitted redingotes with huge bishop sleeves and elaulettes of mirror velvet showing all the shades in the brocade. For young girls are shorter half circle capes that display their gowns and do not crush those light fabrics. Some of these are of fine cashmere lined with pink silk and finished with a dark blue velvet cape and collar bordered with chinchilla. Ermine capes are in great vogue, and are worn by old and young alike. The clouded moiré antique shot in two or three light colors is also used for very rich cloaks, and in some the design is marked throughout with glittering spangles of jet, steel, or gold.

Harper's Bazar, 9 December 1893

Evening Cape
Illustrirte Frauen-Zeitung, 1 December 1893

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