The more I study the topic, the more I realize that here, as in so many cases with history, there's no easy answer. The first print (1805) shows a woman, who's clearly a young miss, in the classic white muslin dress.
The Gillray print (1802) offers another angle on the story. One of the caricaturist’s jobs is to mock the follies of the time. If a fashion is being mocked, we can be sure it was popular. This isn't the only print I've come across that portrays women wearing a style that might not suit them. But what got my attention here is that the two ladies are obviously not young misses.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.