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1880s Fashion

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It’s interesting to see that certain things don’t change through the centuries.  Although the styles have changed drastically (thank the Lord), the need for young, single women to spend their salary on the latest style clothes has not changed.  Bertha was a shingle maker in Oshkosh’s “Sawdust City” in 1880, about when this photo was taken.  She surely couldn’t have been making a large salary but it appears that her wages mainly went on her back.  She was single during this time and this was the “in thing” as far as clothes were concerned.  They needed a special corset to squeeze the fleshy waistline as small as possible and to broaden the breast and hips, producing this “hourglass look”.  Keep an eye out in the next photos for the changes in styles through the following decades.  The trend went from this to all-over ornate, to simpler dresses with huge, puffy sleeves, to emphasizing the shoulder with pads, to the more tailored look of the forties.  The benefit of this?  Women’s clothing styles help us to date the photographs.

Bertha Rosnow in Her Victorian Hourglass Dress

Bertha and Mary Rosnow

Wearing Their 1883 Polonaise Fashions

Bertha (left) stands with her ruffled umbrella, all decked out in her exquisite Polonaise dress.  Her sister, Mary, stands next to her.  This might easily have been her wedding dress when she married Julius Ziebell on March 21 of that year.  The Polonaise dress featured an overskirt of three bunched swags that gave the hips the impression of width and displayed ruffled petticoats under it in front.  It originated in Poland.  There were no Ziebells living in Clintonville then but there were at least 5 Zebell families in Oshkosh.  She probably met Julius there and they could have been married in Clintonville because that’s where her parents lived in 1883.  They had one child, probably posthumously, because Julius died in 1884.  Little William was born in December of 1884.  After Julius died, her parents took little William and raised him, and she returned to Oshkosh to live - until they called her back to marry Gustav Ruth.