Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ruby Velvet & Ostrich Plumes: London Fashions for December, 1819

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Loretta reports:

Another look at one of our favorite posts from the NHG archives - here's a nice little wool and velvet number for the fashionable lady of late 1819.

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London Fashions for December

PLATE 36.—WALKING DRESS.
A PELISSE composed of kerseymere: the colour is a peculiar shade of grey; it is lined with white sarsnet. The body is tight to the shape, the waist is rather long, and the sleeve is set in so as to just touch the point of the shoulder: the sleeve is wide, and falls very much over the hand. The skirt is moderately full, meets before, and fastens down on the inside. The trimming is composed of ruby-coloured velvet; it is of a new pattern, and exceedingly rich and elegant; it goes round the bottom, and up each of the fronts. The epaulettes and cuffs correspond with the trimming. High standing collar, trimmed in a similar manner. Head-dress, a bonnet composed of ruby velvet, intermixed with levantine: the crown is made of folds of these two materials, so disposed as to form a point in the centre, which has a light and novel effect: the brim is large, and of a singular but becoming shape; it is finished at the edge by a rich roll of ruby levantine, to which is attached a full fall of blond lace, set on narrow towards the ears, and broad in the middle of the brim: this style of trimming adds much softness to the countenance. A high plume of ostrich feathers, to correspond, is placed upright in front, and a rich ribbon ties it under the chin. Gloves to correspond with the pelisse. Half-boots, the lower part of black leather, the upper part grey levantine.

From the Repository of arts, literature, fashions, Vol. VIII. No. XLVIII, published by R. Ackermann, 1819
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Kerseymere—Fine woolen suiting, having two-thirds of the filling and one-third of the warp on the face.
Levantino—Four-leaf, double-faced, closely woven silk serge, having single or ply warp.  Comes mostly in solid colors but also in stripes.
Sarsenet— Plain, woven stout piece dyed English cotton cloth finished with high gloss, often calendered to give the appearance of a twill; used for lining, etc.

Definitions from the Dictionary of Textiles by Louis Harmuth, 1915

4 comments:

Susan Bailey said...

Were corsets necessary for these empire waste line dresses? Empire waste lines tend to be more "forgiving" to the figure. I love this particular style.

Jane O said...

I do enjoy these fashion pictures and descriptions. And thank you for including the explanations of the fabrics. I wondered about sarsenet—it sounds sheer, probably because it ends with -net.

LorettaChase said...

Susan, they absolutely wore corsets. Please click on our Corsets label for more on this subject. Jane O, I'm not consistent with definitions, but many of the fabrics can be tracked down by Googling.

Susan Bailey said...

Thanks, just looked at those posts. When were corsets invented and why were they invented?

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