Looking Ahead: 1870 Imagines the Fashions of the Future

I’ve not done much this past year, or at least it feels that way. I am looking forward to the New Year, making plans and imagining where life will take me.

I was going through old digitized Harper Bazaar magazines from 1870 when I found this gem in the March 19th issue:


Scene – A Costumer’s   Time – 1890
LADY. “I want a Costume for a Private Fancy Dress Party I am to attend. Something Absurd or Ridiculous.”
COSTUMER. “How do you like That One?”
LADY. “That will do. But is it possible that People ever made such Frights of Themselves!”

There’s nothing like poking fun at the now through the eyes of tomorrow! For the curious, here’s two decadent, fluffy, fashionable dresses and hairstyles…published by the very same magazine only a few days before and after the cartoon lampooning them:


Ball Gown, March 12th, 1870


House Dress, April 2nd, 1870

Oh, the delicious, delicious irony! We still do it today (just look for “Trends we need to ditch in 2017” videos on YouTube posted by beauty gurus who were touting the same things only a few weeks ago to see what I mean). What’s really wonderful about this cartoon, though, isn’t the Punch-style biting commentary or even hypocrisy of it, but how close they got the fashion forecast! They were just a little early in their predictions, though. Here’s a dress from Harper’s Bazar/Bazaar in 1890:


Harper’s Bazar, October 18th 1890harpers-october-1890

Harper’s Bazar, October 18th 1890

There’s a hint of a similarity, but these don’t really look much like the cartoon’s facetious forecast, does it?

But skip forward a bit into the 20th century and…

1903-harpers harpers-1903 harpers-1904Select plates from 1903 issues of Harper’s Bazar

Just to refresh our memory:


Let’s break it down, shall we?

Tightly fitted, flared-bottom skirts?

Fashion Plate, 1902

How about some more exciting hemlines?
As you wish…

Fashion Plate, 1903

Fashion Plate, 1901

But those big, puffy cuffs? Surely nobody would…
Like meringues for your wrists!

Fashion Plate, 1902

Fashion Plate, 1903

Paired with cape-like Sailor collars?!
Mmmmmhmmmmm! Classic.

Fashion Plate 1902

Fashion Plate, 1903

Cute little empire waist jackets with asymmetrical detailing?
You know I could never deny you!

Fashion Plate, 1902

Mounds of hair topped with hats?
Oh, honey, that hat is FAR too tiny, but if you insist….

Fashion Plate, 1903

Fashion Plate, 1903

Fashion Plate, 1905

But what about the raised waist, short skirt, fluffy hemline, and cute little hats?
Well, I suppose you could wait another decade…

Fashion Plate, 1915

…of course, you’ll sacrifice the fantastic pastry puff sleeves, but, hey, we can’t all be as fabulous as an Edwardian lady fancy dress shopping for vintage 1870s clothes in 1890!


Find amazing FREE digitized copies of 19th and early 20th century Harper’s Bazar/Bazaar magazines here: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000641436/Home

Make Your Own REGARDS Ring: A Tutorial

Create your own Love Note Ring

As you may have learned in this post, I’m in love with Victorian acronym jewelry! Sadly, I can’t quite afford most of them, but I am crafty and I can definitely afford to spend an afternoon (and $8) making one of my own. You can too!



  • Ring Blank
  • Acrylic Jewels in various sizes
  • Glue

I found all of these at Micheals. The ring is adjustable with a plain flat top, but they also make blanks with scalloped settings if you want to get a bit more fancy.


Step 1: Choose your acronym and design your layout.

The hardest part is choosing an acronym or even a name, like Sara (Sapphire, Amethyst, Ruby, Amethyst). There are a few samples of traditional acronyms here, and a list of gemstones in alphabetical order here if you’d like to make a name ring. I settled for the classic REGARDS (Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby, Diamond, and Sapphire). I traced around the top of my ring to make a template because it’s much easier to test designs on a paper template than it is to wrangle tiny stones onto a small ring. I bought a variety pack of gems so I could test out different designs, like a large center stone surrounded by smaller ones. I ended up settling on a same-size stone design because it perfectly filled the top.

Side note about the randomness of life: my batch of stones was rich in “diamonds,” but a tad short on “emeralds,” so I had to choose an acronym that didn’t have more than one E in it!


Step 2: Glue your gem design to your ring.

To help put the gems in the ring, I used some tweezers to place them in the glue. The Super Glue was super speedy, but even the smallest drop gums up everything and it dried somewhat cloudy. Next time I make a ring, I think I’ll try to find a better glue. Any suggestions?


Step 3: Allow the glue to cure and enjoy!

Make one of your own? Share your picture in the comments!