In the past week, I've done some more research on 19th century women's clothing to try and pin down the age of my pieces. Wikipedia takes good care of me sometimes. Between my buddy Wikipedia and the exhibition catalog from the Cincinnati Art Museum's 1993 "With Grace and Favor: Victorian & Edwardian Fashion in America," I think I'm looking at something from the very late 1870s or early 1880s.
Here are some notable details:
The front of the jacket flares out a little-- see how the panels on either side of the front widen slightly in both images?
This jacket, which has princess seams, has been cut to accommodate a bustle that would have protruded horizontally. The smooth back--no pleats or decoration-- makes me think that this is an everyday "afternoon" dress that, although the bustled skirt may have been draped elaborately, was designed for practicality. As practical as a bustle could be, that is.
Another similarity I found between my piece and c.1880 afternoon dresses was in the seaming in the back. This brown dress has the same number kind of seams in the back and a curved sleeve constructed in the same way.
Next time on Mystery Monday: Having buried my nose in 1875-1885 fashion plates, find some details and decorations that pinpoint the year of construction even more precisely.