Those who have followed this blog for a while know that my interest is mainly American women’s sportswear. But that does not mean that I can’t look to other countries to see how women were adapting dress as sports for women became more popular. When I spotted this Manby catalog from 1892, I had to add it to my collection of print resources.
My high school French is more than a little rusty, but even I could figure out that this catalog was for tailored women’s garments for sports. The title page tells us that here are clothes for travel, campaign, promenade, sea bathing, riding, yachting, and hunting. Yes, I can relate to all that.
Manby was located at 21 Rue Auber, and they advertised as a Maison Anglaise, specializing in tailored clothes for English clients. Later advertisements added Americans to the targeted clientele.
The catalog does not give a lot of information about each model offered for sale. I’m guessing that they knew the models their customers were after.
For the most part, the styles don’t look particularly French to me. In a way it seems like going to Paris only to eat at McDonalds.
But it does give a great look at what English, and probably American, women were looking for in the way of sports clothing in the 1890s.
The clothes look to me as they could have been made in the United States until I got to the illustration on the back cover.
I’ve looked at a lot of images of American women in sportswear, and never have I seen anything that compares to the pants and short “skirt” worn in this illustration. I do have another French print, dated to the 1870s that shows a similar short dress over pants, but it is a caricature.
The artist is Louis Vallet.