A Dog to Match Milady’s Gown: 1890, 1900

Harrison Fisher print of girl and colour-co-ordinated dog.

Harrison Fisher print of girl and colour-co-ordinated dog.



Pet dogs are so fashionable among- the large class of society women who live for dress and show that they may almost be said to lead the fashion. Dresses are chosen to suit the colour of the dog, or the dog to suit the colour that most becomes the wearer. The soft browns of the dachshund, the mouse grey of the greyhound, the red brown of the Gordon setter, and the jet black and snow white of the Pomeranians, not to mention the perfect beige colour of some of the French poodles, give enough variety to insure the women choosing becoming dogs. The dogs themselves seem quite conscious of this added charm bestowed upon them, and are quite ready to have the collar or tie that gives the little contrast that is needed to match the touch of colour at the throat, belt, or lining of the coat.

It is not so many years since a certain fashionable woman bought herself a grey velvet gown to match the skin or coat of her greyhound. The picturesque effect was undeniable, and the woman’s success that year was unprecedented. The dachshunds have lately been chosen by young girls who can wear that warm shade of brown to advantage. “Give me a piece of material as nearly the colour of my dog’s coat as possible,” has been a request that has been often heard lately.

For a widow, we are assured, there is nothing so fashionable to have and, it might be said, to hold, for these small dogs have to be held very often, than the jet black Pomeranians. To be sure the fur, or coat, has more gloss than is generally allowed in deep mourning, but a crape bow or a bow of mourning ribbon remedies all that. These little black Pomeranians, though, are not entirely relegated to deep mourning, and are carried by women who wear black gowns trimmed with lace and with touches of light blue. An exceedingly smart black mousseline de soie gown, with a sash of brocaded blue ribbon, has a small black Pomeranian with a large blue satin bow at his throat; or, if expense is no object, as is generally the case with women who can afford to have the dogs match the gowns, a collar studded with turquoise.

When the polka dotted gowns came in fashion this summer, it was at first a little difficult to find anything that was just appropriate, for, after all, there are not so many dogs to choose from. But the solution to the difficulty has been easily solved by bringing back into fashion the black and white spotted coach dog, who looks remarkably well with any polka dotted costume. Then it is possible to find the fox terrier with a few dots also, and a little touch of corn colour or tan can easily be continued in the gown by introducing the colour in the vest, belt colour, or in the linings of the coat. An exceedingly smart white foulard gown with black dots has a short bolero of white pique, trimmed with a tan-coloured lace, as nearly as possible matching the colour on the dog. This has been found most attractive, and it is not difficult to get a dog to match; but, after all, the wisest plan with, all these colour schemes is to buy the dog first, and after he has been discovered to be a becoming colour it is not nearly so hard to get the right shading of the material to be used for the gown.—”Weekly Scotsman.” Auckland [NZ] Star 17 November 1900: p. 1

The same fad seems to have been originated a decade earlier by a New York lady.  One wonders if the dogs each had a specially-decorated silver or gold kennel.

The Fitness of Things

Not every woman is so mindful of the eternal fitness of things as one who is daily seen on Fifth avenue. She has one street gown in grays, from the top of her little gray toque to the gray gaiters. And when she wears the gray costume she is always accompanied by a small Italian greyhound, whose coat is of exactly the shade of her costume. About his neck is an oxidized silver collar, to which is attached a long silver chain fastened to her own silver girdle.

Her other promenade costume is a wonderful combination of red brown and gold and so is the dog that goes with it. He is an Irish setter whose silky brown coat exactly matches the tint of hers. About his neck is a gold collar with a gold chain attached, by which she leads him. New York Evening Sun. The Olean [NY] Democrat 3 April 1890: p. 3

From "Dogs and Puppies," 1908

From “Dogs and Puppies,” 1908

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: This is the week of The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City, where one can see all the fashionable breeds, whose handlers are quite eclipsed by their charges’ sartorial elegance.  Mrs Daffodil has seen ladies who bore a strong physical resemblance to their dogs, but colour co-ordinating one’s wardrobe to harmonize with wee Tuffet’s coat is—in Mrs Daffodil’s opinion—barking.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.



One thought on “A Dog to Match Milady’s Gown: 1890, 1900

  1. Pingback: Mr Shepherd Colley’s Visiting Card: 1885 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

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