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Woman's Day Dress and Spencer Jacket

CC0 Public Domain Designation

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c. 1800


Made in France with cotton imported from India

About this artwork

White cotton dresses first appeared in French fashion in the 1780s; the simplicity of the delicate column-like silhouette was seen as an ideal expression of Neoclassical femininity, a look inspired by Classical Greek and Roman statuary. The quality of this cotton was nearly impossible to replicate using European industrial methods, adding to its cachet.

The prevailing fashion for light, sheer cotton gowns necessitated a range of accessories to keep women warm. The short Spencer jacket complemented high-waisted gowns such as this example in the museum’s collection (AIC 2019.787.1). The woman’s version was adapted from menswear and was probably inspired by the English second Earl of Spencer (1758–1834), who reportedly cut off the tails of a damaged coat and invented a new style. Short jackets were made of a variety of fabrics; this example’s block-printed cotton is a product of the French printing industry that was inspired by the global trade in colorful, Indian cotton fabrics.


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Woman's Day Dress and Spencer Jacket


France (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1796–1804


Gown: Cotton Mull (thin plain weave fabric); Jacket: cotton, plain weave, block printed; cotton lining


Jacket Overall width with sleeves extended: W.: 151.1 cm (59 1/2 in.); Overall: H.: 30.5 cm (12 in.); Sleeve: H.: 63.5 cm (25 in.); Center back: H.: 20.3 cm (8 in.); Gown Approximately: H.: 152.4 cm (60 in.)

Credit Line

Belle M. Borland Endowment Fund

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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