Direct from the era! Here are extensive descriptions from The Delineator June 1894 for materials recommended for stylish summer fashions.
Click on the thumbnails to see the scans of the original pages then read below for the complete transcription. (Note: It is rather long & wordy but packed with period ideas!)
The links in the text will direct you to definitions and/or images of the more obscure words, e.g. Heliotrope = vivid lavender. They are for reference only and not a validation or recommendation of the linked site. You can also simply google any of the words and you’ll find more info.
The Original Text:
Not many years ago approval was bestowed upon clan tartans and fancy plaids to the exclusion of striped and checked fabrics; but the fashion was short-lived, the plaids enjoying only a season or two of popularity and being then supplanted by stripes. Once more has the wheel of Fashion turned, and the revolution has brought us small shepherd’s checks, which have long been awaiting a recall from their temporary banishment.
Now that the unobtrusive little squares are regarded with emphatic favor by authorities on feminine attire, they are displayed in nearly every variety of goods. In serges they may be obtained in black and white, brown and white, and navy-blue and white, and also in two tones of brown, gray, green, cardinal and blue. These materials, of course, belong to the practical class of textiles and will be chosen for travelling, shopping and general street wear. They may be made up alone or in combination with moiré matching the darker checks; and they will be most effective when fashioned after simple modes of a somewhat formal character.
Checked Surahs and taffetas are among the dressiest fabrics offered for street and even for semi-ceremonious gowns. In some varieties of taffeta white is associated in the checks with heliotrope, old-rose, cerise, garnet, blue, black or brown; and in others the checks are woven in three harmoniously contrasting colors, such as tan, brown, and olive, green, brown and blue, cardinal, stone and silver-gray, or heliotrope, tan and olive. A brown-and-white checked taffeta is pleasingly marked with spaced white feather-edged stripes that produce the effect of applied stripes of ribbon.
Even crépon, which is decidedly the elect of Summer fabrics, is produced in checks, although in this weave bayadère and vertical stripes are equally stylish. One sample of checked crépon in a very open weave unites gray and black, another brown, black and red, and a third olive, blue and rose.
Among the unfigured crépons there is a silk-and-wool mixed variety known as straight-grained crépon, the crinkles being waved in straight lines. This material is fifty inches wide and is obtainable in réséda, old-blue, golden-brown and various other street and evening tints.
A charming Summer toilette was developed in old-blue crépon of this kind in conjunction with golden-brown moiré arabesque. The pliant nature of the crépon renders it especially suitable for the jabot-drapery which overhangs the gored skirt. Two slender points at the back and a broad one in front reach to the bottom of the skirt, and plaits laid in the top of the drapery cause the side edges of the points to fall in jabots and effectively display a lining of moiré. The waist is short and is made with fullness at the bottom. At the top is applied a yoke of moiré cut in scollops at the lower edge and topped by a standing collar of the same material. Over the gigot sleeves fall double epaulettes of moiré that are cut circular to present a slightly rippled appearance, and about the waist is passed a wrinkled moiré belt which is caught up to form a point in front. The hat designed as a companion for this toilette is a brown fancy chip trimmed with brown moiré ribbon and bluettes; and with it is worn a brown chenille-dotted Tuxedo veil. The gloves are brown Suèdes, and the parasol is covered with brown moiré.
The novelty crépons are wonderfully artistic both in coloring and in design. A typical specimen of this class shows embroidered silk vines and Valenciennes lace insertions on a cream-white ground, another has an olive-green surface bearing red dots and yellow dashes embroidered with silk, and a third is composed of alternate old-blue silk and mode wool stripes, with irregularly woven heavy white bouclé cords traversing the goods at intervals. The material last described is as sheer and gauzy as grenadine, and is exquisitely delicate in yellow and white, with white cords.
Mohair crépons are both serviceable and dressy. A shaded garnet-and-cream mohair crépon is woven in very decided, wave-like crinkles, and may be stylishly made up with black moiré antique when its coloring is deemed a trifle too brilliant. A solid-colored crépon that is composed almost entirely of silk and is, therefore, very lustrous displays crinkles that take the form of flutes. Carriage and even dinner toilettes will be developed in these choice fabrics.
Barége crépons has a tissue-like surface of silk and wool marked by crosswise stripes of crinkled silk and is alike on both sides. In one sample the stripes are heliotrope and in another Nile-green, the grounds being white in both instances.
Barége is very highly esteemed, not only for its coloring and designs. Since the popular taste has accepted the combination of blue and green, a navy-blue barége striped with vertical lines of green silk may be regarded as one of the most desirable members of its class. Less striking is a soft mode barége powdered with minute white silk dots or points and striped en bayadère with white. Another navy-blue specimen is checked with green and yellow silk and crossed by lengthwise black hair-lines. An illuminated effect is produced in a black barége by means of white and colored silk lines.
Silk-and-wool grenadines hold a prominent place in the seemingly endless procession of beautiful Summer fabrics. The plain varieties in solid colors are of the étamine order and may be stylishly associated with bright-hued silks. The satin-hued grenadines are exceptionally charming and may be appropriately chosen for ceremonious attire. A black wool grenadine surface with knots woven here and there has a Nile-green, old-blue, yellow or some other bright-hued lining that is finished to closely resemble satin. To the same family belongs a black wool grenadine in a lace-like, open-meshed pattern, through which an old-rose or turquoise-blue silk lining shows with exquisite effect. Another style of grenadine displays colored bouclé cords on black, white or tinted grounds.
Cottons belong to the Summer season as distinctly as do the birds and flowers, and their cool daintiness now appeals as strongly as ever to the tasteful and sensible shopper, in spite of the tempting array of equally artistic woolens offered for warm-weather wear. The woman who affects rigid fashions will choose piqué or striped or plain Galatea and will make it up according to the severest of tailor modes. The skirt will be entirely without ornament, and the waist will be as smart and trim as though made of cloth. Such a suit will be the height of good style for the morning promenade.
There is a little variety in the Galateas, but the piqués are shown in white and solid colors and in numerous patterns, such as broken and solid striped, pin and polka dots, embroidered figures, and dashes of illuminating hues. Heliotrope, yellow, blue, pink and green piqué grounds crossed by rather thick cords called, “railroad stripes,” are pretty and, what is more to the purpose, exceedingly effective when made up.
For morning wear indoors there is nothing better than the pretty French printed lawns and dimities. The printings upon the lawns are for the most part small floral designs in all the fashionable colors, and they are said to be fadeless. The dimities are dotted, striped, flowered, or figured with rings and numerous other conventional devices. A heliotrope dimity is striped with white, and in the stripes appear tiny, slender sprays of heliotrope flowers a trifle lighter than the ground.
The material just mentioned was lately chosen for a simple but eminently artistic house-dress. The skirt is deeply hemmed at the bottom, and is gathered at the top to a short-waisted body, stylish fullness resulting from the gathers. The body is cut low and round at the top and is mounted on high-necked portions. It shows becoming fullness at the bottom, and is shirred several times at the top below a frilled heading. The high-necked portions appear above the body with yoke effect, and are completed at the neck with a standing collar. Puffs cover the coat-shaped sleeves to the elbow, and over the puffs hang pointed caps. A girdle that shapes a point in front encircles the waist. This style would also make up charmingly in blue, pink, yellow or heliotrope self-dotted Swiss, and the dress could be rendered suitable for evening wear by cutting away the high-necked portions above the full body, and the sleeves below the puffs. If a more elaborate effect were desired, the belt and sleeve caps could be made of black velvet, silk or moiré.
Organdy and Swiss are the handsomest of the cottons and will be largely used for dancing and garden-party gowns. A white Swiss is dotted with white and crossed by single silk stripes in alternation with similar stripes in groups of three. The stripes are pink in one instance, yellow in another, heliotrope in a third, and so on through the range of the season’s colors. Yellow or heliotrope silk lines are arranged in the same way on black-dotted white Swiss.
Organdies are dotted and flowered or simply flowered, and have white, tinted, black or navy-blue grounds. A perfect color harmony is produced in a rather curious pattern that shows a tangle of purple violets printed on a navy-blue ground.
Mull is a trifle less sheer than organdy or Swiss. A pretty sample has a yellow ground traversed by broad white stripes that suggest satin, and figured with pale-blue floriations. Linen mull is very durable and pretty and is decorated with floral printings on white grounds.
Crinkled lawn is as dressy as either Swiss or organdy and is formed of alternate plain and crinkled white stripes, with chené flowers on the plain stripes.
Batiste has many admirers and fully merits its popularity. A dainty white batiste is embroidered with tiny red rings, under each of which is a very short line, also embroidered in red. Another specimen with a white ground is dotted with black and striped with lengthwise pink serpentine lines. Black and navy-blue batistes are very dainty and are figured with lines and diamond spots. The designs are green on a certain black ground and white on a blue one. Solid-colored batistes are new, and are especially attractive in pale-green, old-rose and turquoise-blue. It remains to be seen, however, whether they will appeal to the popular fancy.
Printed mousseline de l’Inde is a truly exquisite fabric. The grounds are both light and dark and are adorned with flowers in the shadowy chené effects seen in silks.
Lace-striped and flowered ginghams, and cotton crépons, bearing all sorts of devices are well liked for both morning and afternoon toilettes. Many of the finer cotton crépons resemble the wool fabrics of the same name in design and coloring, and may be made up for wear at outdoor fêtes. Washable Japanese crépons are still high in Fashion’s favor, and their extensive vogue is not difficult to account for when it is remembered how closely these glistening wavy textiles resemble silk crepes.
Striped and checked Madras and striped and basket-patterned cheviot are very popular for blouses and shirt-waists to wear with Eton and blazer suits.
Silks are largely worn, and numerous handsome varieties are displayed in addition to the checks mentioned above. Taffeta is preferred because of its firm texture to the softer and more flexible silks. An entirely new pattern in taffeta has a ground formed of heliotrope and white bayadère stripes, which is crossed by golden-brown satin lengthwise lines and marked with black chené figures that suggest the jagged and broken edges of rocks. This device is also seen upon other striped grounds.
A glossy silk that suggests satin de Chine shades from green to yellow and is sprinkled with wee yellow points; and black points dot a sea-blue silk of similar texture. Black-and-white vines run in serpentine curves across a mode taffeta ground, the color effect being rarely attractive. A mingling of brown and gold in another taffeta gives it the hue of burnished copper; and upon this exquisite surface are woven blue and old-rose chené flowers.
Moiré antiques are used for Louis XIV coats, and also for skirts. Graduated black dots are effectively strewn over a réséda moiré antique that is crossed by satin stripes in a darker shade of green; large and tiny self-colored spots relieve a heliotrope ground of the same weave; and a third specimen is adorned with vague, nebulous-looking devices in high-art colors.
When one of these rich silks is used for a coat or skirt, the balance of the toilette will be made of black figured taffeta or plain satin. Such gowns are, of course, only suitable for very dressy wear; and they are counted equally appropriate for maids and matrons.
Crepon = seersucker