Wednesday, July 3, 2013

“Tying the Knot” A Single Shade of Gray, Lucy Breed Hacker’s Wedding Suit, 1870

On April 14, 1870, William Briggs Kelley, a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, married Lucy Breed Hacker[1], both of Lynn, Massachusetts. They were married on a Thursday of a typical New England, balmy spring day. The bride wore this three-piece, gray silk taffeta wedding suit, with a gathered train. It boasted the high style silhouette of the 1870s, with the fullness of the skirt that was typically found during this decade. 
The short-waisted jacket has, what was once, white lace and satin ribbon decorating the wrists and collar. Tatting covered buttons run down the front. Upon close inspection, barely noticeable pinhole marks at the neckline above the buttons offer a clue that a brooch, possibly a cameo, was the chosen piece of jewelry for that day.

 The notable third piece to this ensemble is the elegant, detachable silk taffeta bow with satin ribbons that cascade down the back of the skirt highlighting its fullness. (Above) This wedding suit was an unconditional gift to the Lynn Museum & Historical Society in 1981 along with a pair of white kid, heeled wedding slippers, a piece of white netting (possibly for a veil) and artificial flowers all used to decorate the wedding suit to be worn on the wedding day of Miss Hacker and Mr. Kelley.
            This suit is typical of middle-class “best” gowns worn in the 1870s. The young bride had a 13 ½  inch waist and wore a common shade of gray typical for wedding attire of this time because it was a useful color to re-use as Sunday best. Whether the overall pale color of the fabric or the petite frame of the dress, one can sense the youthful, innocence of the bride. The suit is delicate and classically elegant, an ideal that lends itself to the uneasy, nervousness of youth heading into a lifelong commitment of marriage.
            This wedding suit is currently on view in the Lynn Museum’s wedding dress exhibit “Tying the Knot” through September 28, 2013.

Guest blogger Abby Battis, is Assistant Director and Curator, Lynn Museum & Historical Society, Lynn, MA (USA)

All images, courtesy Abby Battis

For information on this dress and more, visit:
“Tying the Knot” June 19, 2013-September 28, 2013

Drawn exclusively from the Lynn Museum’s extensive Textile Collection, “Tying the Knot” highlights wedding dresses worn by Lynn brides over the span of 100 years. This exhibit also includes church and wedding photographs from the Museum collection with a special addition of photographs that have been submitted by the Lynn community.

[1] “Memoirs,” Register of the Lynn Historical Society, Vol. 26.1, 1934.

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