“If a dinner party be the occasion, when dinner is announced, the master offers his arm to the lady first in rank, and either himself or the mistress of the house will specify who shall follow, according to precedence, or age; or else the married before the single; or those who are likely to be most agreeable to one another; or those who are the greatest strangers in the house. If the dining room is downstairs, give the lady the wall; but if you pass merely from one room to another, offer the left arm to the lady. Ever remember that it is the lady who at all times takes precedence.”
[From Etiquette: Social Ethics and the Courtesies of Society, 1854]
To the left is an 1860 green taffeta dinner dress with an open body edged by a plissé of shaded ribbon. The bell sleeves, with epaulets, are trimmed the same as the bodice. A wider trimming is placed above the hem of the skirt. The hairstyle incorporates cerise velvet and black lace with roses.
The 1860s dinner dress to the right is of grey moiré taffeta with rose colored buttons, ceinture of the same color of taffeta with long ends. The bodice features the very wide sleeves of the period lined with white and edged by rose colored guimp. The skirt is ornamented by three rows of the same guimp in a wave. The hairstyle features rose colored velvet.
The center dinner dress is of pink taffeta with the skirt ornamented by five flounces headed by black velvet. The bodice features a button closing with loose hanging sleeves. The sleeves have the same frills as the skirt. The coiffure features matching ribbon.
To the right is a dinner dress of green satin, ornamented by bouillons en tablier and macarons of black lace up the center. The high bodice also features bouillons and lace. The tight sleeves have bouillons on the top. The hair is styled in thick ringlets.