Teagown, Europe or North America, c. 1893–1900, silk faille, silk taffeta, silk lace, striped silk broadcloth, glazed cotton and twill cotton. Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston. Gift of Harriette Folger McGinnis, 1951 (C51-477.7)


Worn by May Price Folger (1869–1935)

Re-Worn by Tyffanie Morgan

Teagown, Europe or North America, c. 1893–1900, silk faille, silk taffeta, silk lace, striped silk broadcloth, glazed cotton and twill cotton. Agnes Etherington Art Centre. Gift of Harriette Folger McGinnis, 1951 (C51-477.7). Made by Maker Once Known

Tyffanie Morgan’s Teagown, Kingston, 2023, organic cotton and synthetic tulle. Made by Jessica Dykins

Tyffanie Morgan’s Teagown
Fashion plate from La France Élégante et Paris Élégant Réunis, c. 1886. SPARC Digital
How It Was Worn

This machine and hand sewn teagown is a rich and fascinating example of luxurious late Victorian leisurewear.

The concept of this type of garment developed over the second half of the nineteenth century throughout middle-class and elite western society. Teagowns were a form of “undress,” meaning they were worn only inside the home and never out in public. They were not underwear but rather a fashionable choice for women to receive and entertain friends informally in the morning or afternoon. The wearing of teagowns was not restricted to the serving or drinking of tea.

The style really starts to appear with the name “teagown” around the 1870s and continued into the early twentieth century. The gowns generally followed the fashionable silhouette and look of the day but had a looser fit than other daywear or eveningwear, intending to convey that sense of informality. Women could choose to wear a corset or not underneath a teagown, to don house slippers and leave their heads bare and hair largely unadorned.

Among the most distinctive elements of this teagown are the back pleats draping from neckline to hem. This feature is a conscious reference to a late eighteenth-century gown style, the robe à la piémontaise, which was characterised by such back pleats separated from the body of the gown. However, the A-line silhouette, full sleeves and shoulder-accentuating lace flounces are very typical stylistic markers of the late Victorian, 1890s period.

Carolyn Dowdell, Dress Historian

How It Was Made

The teagown’s construction demonstrates the complexity that dressmaking of the period reached, comprising multiple layers that sometimes fit together like puzzle pieces.

Teagown, back hem interior

Apart from the back pleats, the back of the teagown is fitted to the body, held in place with an internal tape to tie around the waist. The gown front comprises a loose, gathered panel of silk lacesilk lace Lace is a delicate, web-like fabric that can be hand or machine-made. The silk lace on the teagown was likely machine-made. While modern lace is often made from cotton and synthetic fibre, silk thread is a traditional material. underlined with satin-striped silk broadcloth.

The primary fabrics are a costly, heavy silk faille (ribbed silk)silk faille (ribbed silk) Silk Faille is a closely woven fabric with a fine ribbed texture. It’s similar to taffeta but is thicker and stiffer and can hold its shape on its own. As such, it’s often chosen for more structured and tailored garments. Faille can also be made from rayon and cotton.—used for most of the body of the gown panels, the collar and the main portions of the sleeves and sleeve cuffs—and silk lace woven with stylized strawberry and raspberry motifs—used for the gathered centre front panel, the front and shoulder flounce and the sleeves. Wide silk moirésilk moiré Silk moiré, sometimes called watered silk, has a wavy or “watered’ appearance. It is typically produced through a finishing process called calendering. ribbon was used for the front sash. Linings and facings comprise silk taffetasilk taffeta Taffeta is a crisp, lightweight, fabric, typically with a lustrous appearance. Its name comes from the Persian word for silk, tāfta. Today, taffeta is most commonly made from polyester. Taffeta has a distinctive rustle called “scroop”., silk broadclothsilk broadcloth Broadcloth is a medium-weight fabric with thin ribs, often used to make shirts and blouses. Traditionally made with wool and often cotton, the satin-striped silk broadcloth used for the teagown is a luxurious variety. with a woven satin stripe and glazed and twill cottons.

The gown’s sumptuous materials and intricate construction place it at the higher end of fashion. This would have been a custom-made, bespoke garment for a wealthy client. The process of creating such apparel was often a collaborative one between client and dressmaker, deciding together on particulars of style and materials.

Carolyn Dowdell, Dress Historian

Image: Back interior closeup with waist tie. The back panels of silk faille are underlined with light pink glazed cotton and treated as one layer.
Intimate Close-Ups and Interior Shots

Scroll through Tea Gown details, with construction notes by Carolyn Dowdell, revealing the intricacy and skill of historical dressmaking.

Image: Back interior closeup with waist tie. The back panels of silk faille are underlined with light pink glazed cotton and treated as one layer.
How To Make It
Make your own version of the Teagown using the downloadable pattern (PDF).

How To Wear It

The Teagown has been re-interpreted and re-worn by Tyffanie Morgan.

Tyffanie Morgan

Introducing Tyffanie Morgan, the charismatic drag queen reigning over Kingston, Ontario, and a multifaceted talent whose influence extends far beyond the stage. With over two decades of experience, Tyffanie is not just a “Kingston Drag” sensation but a community leader, community icon, event manager, and the heart behind DragShow.ca.

Tyffanie’s performances are a dazzling blend of glamour, creativity, charm, and unmatched stage presence. As a drag artist, she has become synonymous with successful drag show events that leave audiences mesmerized and wanting more. Her 20 years of experience shine through every captivating performance, solidifying her status as a cornerstone of Kingston’s vibrant entertainment scene.

Beyond the spotlight, Tyffanie is a green-thumbed gardener and horticulturalist, sharing her passion through the popular hashtag #TyffsGarden. This unique intersection of drag artistry and gardening prowess sets Tyffanie apart, showcasing her diverse interests and connecting with fans on a personal level.

Adding to her repertoire, Tyffanie is the co-host of the live broadcast podcast “What’s the Maple Tea?!” where she brings her wit and charm to the airwaves. This podcast, like Tyffanie herself, is a lively mix of entertainment, culture, and candid conversations, making it a must-listen for fans and newcomers alike.

As the owner, operator, and administrator of DragShow.ca, Tyffanie has created a vital hub for drag enthusiasts across Canada. This platform serves as the go-to source for drag event listings, cementing Tyffanie’s role as a central figure in the Canadian drag community.

Explore the vibrant world of Tyffanie Morgan on her website, https://tyffanie.com, where you can find updates on upcoming events, gardening tips, and exclusive podcast content. Tyffanie, the drag artist, gardener, podcaster, and entertainer, is not just a local sensation but a driving force shaping the narrative of Kingston’s dynamic cultural landscape.

Help Listening

< Back

Play Online

  1. Use the links on this page to choose which track you would like to listen to
  2. Press the “Play” button to begin

Listen In-Gallery

  1. Visit agnes.queensu.ca/digital-agnes
  2. Select the audio track you would like to listen to and press “Play”
    Listening to this content will require a Wi-Fi connection or a data plan.
    Some charges may apply, please consult your mobile provider)

Other Ways to Listen

Tap or click on “Transcript” under each track to read or download the full transcript of each audio commentary.

Artist Statement: Tyffanie Morgan
Tyffanie Morgan speaks about her Teagown.


Artist Statement: Tyffanie Morgan
Tyffanie Morgan speaks about her Teagown.
Image Credits