It’s hard to imagine rolling down a hill in a long gown, but ladies of the day had to do what they had to do to have fun on wheels.
The girl of the period: Dresses designed for her to go roller skating (1890)
The girl of the period who is a convert to the physical doctrine realizes that after being in training, so to speak, all summer by means of cricket, croquet, canoeing, tennis, bowling, “biking,” and, in short, of all the various forms of outdoor exercise which warns weather makes possible, she must not let her muscles grow soft and flaccid through the winter months.
She knows, too, that she needs something more than nightly cotillions in warm, close rooms, or even than a leisurely promenade on crowded city pavements.
So, if she is one of the wise virgins who is not afraid of wind and weather, she just goes in for skating as being more productive of health and grace than any other of the mid-winter sports; and being well aware that Jack Frost sometimes gets a lazy fit, and declines to put the skating-pond in safe and serviceable condition, she renders herself independent of his caprices by cultivating the roller-skate, after the fashion of the English girls, who again deign to smile upon this pastime.
The costumes designed for this amusement are very like those for ice-skating, though of course not as thick and weighty. Redfern is using rough woolens, and also the smooth cloths, with braid and fur garniture.
Of the sketches furnished today, the first is a gray camel’s hair, with blue tufted figures, and it is trimmed with bands of blue velvet and with chinchilla. The very small hat is banded with the fur, and has knots of velvet on the crown, which is of the gown material.
The other model has a princess front and deep cuffs to the elbow of dull terra cotta serge, with over drapery of beige-colored cloth. The fronts of the bodice are braided to simulate a Figaro jacket, with tinsel and dull red-mixed braids, and are edged with gilt mess buttons. A wide hat of terracotta fur felt, with natural ostrich tips, crowns this attractive costume.
Old Victorian desses for roller skating
Redfern’s roller skating costume (1885)
REDFERN’S ROLLER SEATING COSTUME. It was designed especially for this column by the artist.
In the original, it is of dusky red cloth, but may be of any color preferred. It is neat, short, plain and close-fitting, being an infinite improvement on the long, entangling skirt. and flounces and arm-binding awkward wraps too often seen. In a skating costume, anything that impedes the free motion of feet and arms is slovenly and in bad taste.
The costume here presented is richly braided with gilt cord. The jaunty turban is of the color to match the dress. The muff is of the material of the costume, and is trimmed with fur and with the gilt braid. The sleeves are braided to match the skirt.
Down the front of the basque is seen a row of tiny gilt buttons. They have the effect of gold beads, almost. These are officers’ mess buttons, and are extremely fashionable this spring for trimming. They are used largely in edging vest fronts, collars, masques, etc.