Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 18: Scarlett's Prewar Wardrobe (Book Version)

"The rose organdie with long pink sash was becoming, but she had worn it last summer when Melanie visited Twelve Oaks and she'd be sure to remember it.  And might be catty enough to mention it. The black bombazine, with its puffed sleeves and princess lace collar, set off her white skin superbly, but it did make her look a trifle elderly.  Scarlett peered anxiously in the mirror at her sixteen-year-old face as if expecting to see wrinkles and sagging chin muscles.  It would never do to appear sedate and elderly before Melanie's sweet youthfulness.  The lavender barred muslin was beautiful with those wide insets of lace and net about the hem, but it had never suited her type.  It would suit Carreen's delicate profile and wishy-washy expression perfectly, but Scarlett felt that it made her look like a schoolgirl.  It would never do to appear schoolgirlish beside Melanie's poised self. The green plaid taffeta, frothing with flounces and each flounce edged in green velvet ribbon, was most becoming, in fact her favorite dress, for it darkened her eyes to emerald.  But there was unmistakably a grease spot on the front of the basque.  Of course, her brooch could be pinned over the spot, but perhaps Melanie had sharp eyes."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter V

We're starting off the year with a small army of dresses for you in our latest edition of Doppelganger Dresses! Today we bring you four dresses which, as you've surely guessed by now, come from the quote above about Scarlett's prewar wardrobe. And just think--if our heroine had changed her mind about what to wear to the fateful Twelve Oaks barbecue, perhaps we'd all be talking about her famous rose organdie dress or green plaid taffeta dress instead of her green sprigged muslin dress.

But while these dresses just narrowly missed their date with destiny, they are just as historically accurate as some of the more famous frocks mentioned in Gone with the Wind. After the jump, you'll find period fashion plates for all four dresses described by MM. 

Check them out and let us know what you think. Do you have a favorite out of the four? Which one could you most see Scarlett wearing? 

Pink dress with sash, 1862. Godey's Lady's Book.

Black dress with lace collar, circa 1850s. Le moniteur de la mode.

Lavender stripped dress, 1864. Journal des demoiselles.

Green plaid dress, circa 1850s. Le Moniteur de la mode.


  1. Thank you for this blog -- that has always been a favorite part of the book! I can just imagine Scarlett with all these dreses around her, trying to decide what to wear! It is, however, very hard to imagine her in anything besides the green sprigged dress, don't you think? I could see Scarlett best in the green plaid, but to me this dress would be more appropriate for Fall or cooler weather, not a Spring barbeque!! So, if she had to be in one of the others I would say the rose organdie or lavender barred muslin.

  2. For some reason, I can really see Melanie rocking the white and red dress on the last picture with the green plaid one!

    The green one seems Christmas-y to me, and I don't think it would have been the dress for the event. I like the lavender one for the BBQ out of the four. The black one looks far too much like a mourning dress!

  3. Good job guys! I love trying to imagine these outfits. Just imagine if she had chosen one of them instead... Of these four dresses I will have to choose the pink one. I think it's very pretty and Scarlett would've looked quite fetching in it. I think the black dress is so pretty, but I often wondered about that dress. It seems very un-Scarlett like to me. I think the green plaid dress is pretty, but I agree with the others, it's too heavy for a spring barbecue... I always imagined it to be green and white plaid. I think that if she wore anything other than the sprigged, it would have to be the plaid. I think she had to be in green that day.
    I think Scarlett would've been all over the green dress with zigzag trim on the skirt in the first plate. I bet she'd like that green riding habit too. Before the war, what colour riding habit do you all think Scarlett wore?

  4. I don't know, don't you think Mammy and Ellen would have made her wear a conventional dark riding habit?

  5. Construction of riding habits was very specific. That dress with the zig-zag trim would never have been appropriate.


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