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Sarah Olson
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« on: August 09, 2017, 01:21:55 PM »

There have been a few topics getting a little bit into color theory & combinations for dress before (notably http://thesewingacademy.org/index.php?topic=3185.0) but I'm not really finding the answers to the current rabbit hole I've descended into and am hoping I can get some suggestions for where to go next.

Backstory: Looking at a etiquette book that has an exhaustive list of suggested color combinations (Our Deportment, John H. Young). Of particular interest to me is that he has a number of suggested combinations of 3-5 colors. I'd love to work this up into a visual reference. However, the book is from 1879, which is later than my era (1858-1865). Some combinations are classic (blue and brown), but what about "Lilac, gold color and crimson" or "Black, yellow, bronze and light blue?" Also, that's 15-20 years of time for new dyes to be developed. He doesn't get too outlandish (magenta or similar are not mentioned), but still.

Questions!!

1. Has anyone found a similar listing of suggested color combinations from prior to 1865? I've not had a lot of luck - a great tip from Mrs. Hale not to use color combinations that suggest an epigram and general comments to wear colors suited to your complexion, but not really color combinations. Any thoughts on where to look would be appreciated.
2. How much would color preferences have changed over time? Especially those beyond complimentary - he still has the red/green, blue/orange, etc. combinations that you'd expect but some of the combinations beyond two seem like they could be more fluid. I guess what I'm asking is that since he mostly sticks to straightforward color terms that are (seemingly) obvious - maroon, myrtle, peacock blue, maize - could I still use this reference for my time period?
3. Does anyone know what "shaded cardinal" or "shaded blue" would be as distinct from regular cardinal or blue?

Useful website alert: the ISCC-NBS Dictionary of Color Names http://tx4.us/nbsnotes.htm, which helped me nail down what colors "mode" and "gensd'armes" probably were

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Paula
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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2017, 05:23:38 PM »

Sarah are you looking specifically for written ideas? Looking at original garments and even fashion plates can help with color combinations.  Also fabric sample books from the period would show common colors used together.
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Joseph Stevens
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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2017, 10:04:19 AM »

1. Has anyone found a similar listing of suggested color combinations from prior to 1865? I've not had a lot of luck - a great tip from Mrs. Hale not to use color combinations that suggest an epigram and general comments to wear colors suited to your complexion, but not really color combinations. Any thoughts on where to look would be appreciated.

At one time, the late Virginia Mescher had transcribed a list of the color combinations given in fashion plates from Godey's; it's been a long time though, and it may also have included Peterson's. I can't recall exactly, and I don't know if that information is still available anywhere online. At the very least, that'd maybe be my recommendation. It'll take some work, but technically the info you seek is all there, albeit spread out. And as I understand it, that's exactly what she did, but well before the age of Google Books and widely accessible digital archive sources.
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Joseph Stevens


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MaryDee
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« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2017, 12:21:19 PM »

Virginia's wonderful articles from "Virginia's Veranda" have been archived here:  http://www.raggedsoldier.com/archive.htm, but I didn't see one specifically on this topic.  Unless, of course, I missed something!
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The Sewing-Bird.
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« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2017, 08:23:55 AM »

At one time, the late Virginia Mescher had transcribed a list of the color combinations given in fashion plates from Godey's; it's been a long time though, and it may also have included Peterson's.

I know exactly the one you're talking about. I'm going to search my external hard drive archives for it, because a scan of my current computer doesn't bring up anything. Cross your fingers! It was a short, easy to digest, really good article.
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Michaela C
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« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2017, 08:14:41 AM »

I've been doing a cheat sheet of fashion plate descriptions for a while (it's a TV time sort of project) that just sort of never ends. Colors like shaded blue or shaded red, I don't think I've heard in reference to the 1860's, but I've read that book and wondered if they meant shot black, or something of that sort. It could just be as simple as, "dark blue".

One thing that shows up a lot: magenta and solferino. It's not really accurate for 1860's if those aren't mentioned. I've noticed that it's a really popular trim color on neutral-colored gowns, but not neccesarily on it's own. Browns, black and grays being the "normal" ones. 

If you want color combo ideas, you'd have to give me a base color to go on, but I've got LOTS that are accurate to the 60's.
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