The research was of great depth, but not great breadth. In other words, the researcher studied many extant original garments, did a statistical analysis of fabric and construction, and issued her decree. Impressive research, but seriously flawed in that a cotton dress would likely get picked apart and remade into quilts or rags or whatnot, whereas a wool or silk dress might be more likely to survive intact.
Arguments to that effect were rebuffed entirely or countered with claims that a darted cotton dress, if such a thing existed, was an oddity, a complete aberration.
The gospel became so ingrained that authenticity standards for many events now reflect the no-cotton-darted-bodice rule without explanation, context, or background. It's as if the debate never even existed.
I am ever suspicious of absolutes.
Then, I ran across this image in researching something completely different, read it, and literally began jumping up and down and yelling. It was a eureka moment, for sure.
I've scanned at a fairly high resolution, so click to embiggen.
The pattern for a plain dress body, from the February 1856 Peterson's, has the following exact wording:
- "For a cotton dress, the ordinary skirt or bishop sleeve with a band a couple of inches wide, is a fitting accompaniment for this body."
Never say never.