I'm toying with designs for a wool dress c. 1859 (for candlelight tours this autumn), and came across a couple of low bodies which rather threw me. This one at the Henry Ford
and another at the VAM (image of sleeve only, but the neckline is described as "medium low and wide"). The first buttons up the front and has long sleeves, the second is a described as silk-wool and back-lacing. I'm not sure what to make of them. Maybe a transitional teen dress (the former) and the an evening dress (the latter?). Was there a brief revival of wide, open necklines in later 1850s? I'd been looking for deep V-neck day dresses to copy, but found these instead.