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Picturing a World

Bishop’s sleeve

Whatever did we do without the internet? I read the following description in a high school girl's diary from December 1901, when she had gone to a dressmaker, "to try on a waist": "It is lovely—dark red cashmere, with a tucked yoke and vest outlined by scalloped stitched bands, bishop sleeves tight at the elbow and full at the top and bottom and with collar and cuffs alike trimmed with scalloped stitched bands."

I knew that waist meant a blouse, but what was a bishop's sleeve? A few clicks turned up a definition: a long, full sleeve gathered at the bottom with a buttoned cuff. What about hers, though, which was "tight at the elbow"? Well, a few more clicks and up came this illustration in the Dutch fashion magazine De Gracieuse. It helps me imagine both the sleeves and the scallops. The search also reminds me that, if I ever model a character's outfit on this passage, I can't simply rely on the term bishop's sleeve to communicate what I'm describing.

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