Now that we’ve had a chance to see examples of real clothes from the Romantic era, and compare them to the fashion prints I've previously posted, I thought it would be fun to look at the very early 1800s, and those white muslin dresses for which the era is noted (more here and here).
Here’s the description for the July 1807 fashion print
No. 2.—Full Dress. A round robe of white Italian crape over white sarsnet; with frock back, plain sleeve, and pointed front; trimmed round the bottom, bosom, and sleeves with an elegant border, composed of the pearl bead, blended with green foil and gold. The robe confined at the centre of the bosom with a brooch formed of a single pearl. One row of the same forms the necklace, which is fastened with an emerald snap. Hoop earrings, and bracelets to correspond. Hair à-la-Madona on the forehead, twisted behind, and flowing in full curls on the crown of the head ; a bunch of white roses in front, inclining towards the right side. Gloves of French kid; shoes of white satin, with silver trimming. Square shawl of Chinese silk, with a rich pointed border; finished at each point with correspondent tassels. The style of wearing this graceful ornament is, simply giving it a twist from the cross corners, and flinging it negligently over the left shoulder; thus one point ornaments the figure behind, while the others, falling irregularly, form a drapery on the left side, and gracefully occupy the right hand. Chinese fan of frosted crape, with ivory sticks, carved in Egyptian characters.
—La Belle Assemblée, Volume 2, 1807
~~~ Though it’s not precisely the same dress, and dated “about 1800” (and the shawl is not, apparently, fashionably draped) the dress at right from the Victoria & Albert Museum is a wonderful example of how airy and delicate these white muslin dresses could be, and how rich and beautiful the colors of the shawl. The muslin is from India. The shawl is “silk twill with a brocaded pattern woven in silk,” believed to have been made in Spitalfields, London. There's more about the dress here.
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.