Gigot (leg-of-mutton) sleeve dress, Portland, ca. 1834

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The gigot (aka leg-of-mutton) sleeve was in fashion during the 1830s, but it's form changed considerably over the course of the decade.

This figured silk moire dress features mid-arm puffs. This particular sleeve style was preceded by outsize balloon puffs at the shoulder. By 1837, the gigot puffs deflated and moved to the lower arm, a look that lingered for a time and competed in style with the 1840s straight sleeve trend.

1830s trends also included a bodice and gather detailing, and fuller skirts. In combination with the return of the natural waist, new emphasis was placed on the appearance of a small waist, necessitating the use of lacing corsets.

This cream colored dress is associated with Mercy Owen Richardson, a cousin of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Family lore suggested this may have been her wedding dress, although she married in 1832. However, the sleeve style suggests the dress dates closer to 1834.

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