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Anne Hopper (1877-1948)

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Anne and her siblings, photographed on the property of the Van Riper-Hopper House. Anne is seen center, standing between her sisters.

Born in 1877, Anne “Annie” Hopper was the first of three daughters born to Mary Ann Van Riper and Andrew Hopper. According to the 1905 New Jersey State census, Annie had gone to school and could read and write. She was employed as a house servant for a brief spell in her late twenties. Like her two sisters, Annie did not marry; according to the 1910 and 1920 census records, she lived with Mary, Helen, Isaac, and Irving at the Van Riper Hopper house until the siblings sold the property in 1922. As a teenager in the 1890s, Annie was old enough to wear an ensemble similar to this pretty dress, ca. 1892, from our collection.

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Fashion plates such as the one above emphasized the long, slender silhouette popular in the early 1890s.

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The 1890s is often thought of as the “Gibson Girl” era: a decade of fashion defined by tight waists, large skirts, and even larger puffed sleeves. While this is true for the middle of the decade, the Gibson Girl tends to overshadow the predominant fashions of the early 1890s. Particularly between 1890 and early 1893, the fashionable silhouette of the day was characterized by a “great simplicity in form and outline," as written by Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine in 1892. This was a marked departure from the bustle-heavy look of the 1880s, which had sought to accentuate the curves of a woman’s shoulders, bust, torso, and rear. Sleeves of the early 1890s could be straight, or slightly puffed at the shoulders before tapering down to the wrist—a fashionable trend that would last, in various shapes and sizes, the entire decade. Skirts remained flat at the front (as they had in the 1880s), but began being pleated and gathered in the back. Trains, once a staple of fashion the decade before, fell out of favor; Godey's described them as "unhealthy as well as uncomfortable" in October 1892.

While not as constrictive as the highly-tailored look of the 1880s, our olive green dress definitely has the rigid, slender silhouette popular for the period. Its bodice is elongated slightly past the natural waist—an echo of 1840s fashionable design—and it sports the fashionable puffed sleeves and deeply pleated skirt at the rear. Its function as a semi-formal garment can be inferred by its fabric (green silk and velvet) and the beautiful beaded applique along the waist. Just a tad informal for an evening party, Annie may have worn a dress like this for church, or perhaps a dinner party at a friend’s house. Surviving photographs show that the Van Riper-Hopper family had a robust social life. They were active in their local church community, and friends often visited from Fair Lawn and Paterson.

A "stylish dress for a young lady", made of cheviot (wool) and trimmed in velvet ribbon, Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine, October 1892.

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