Doing one of my favorite research things, reading old magazines—I mean really old, not “old” as in the ones in the waiting room—I encountered the following:
I look it up, first, in the dictionary because the simplest solution is usually the best.
Peering into my trusty volume of Elephant’s Breath and London Smoke, I find only this cryptic bit: “Ramona – fashionable colours are . . . ramona and various shades of brown, Court Magazine*, December 1835.”
In English Women’s Clothing of the Nineteenth Century, the color listing offers, "Ramoneur (1833)," whose modern day equivalent is "Brazil Nut."
|Sadie Wendell Mitchell,"Dig"|
I try to leave it alone, but my inner Nerd has taken hold, and I keep looking.
“The favourite colours are ramona, violet, emerald, and light green, rose, ponceau,** and some fancy hues.” —[French] Fashions for February 1835, La Belle Assemblée.
Then one day, when I’m looking for something else entirely, I happen upon this:
"Velvet and satin hats of a new colour called ramoneur (it is a dingy shade of brown approaching nearly to black) are now very fashionable; they are trimmed under the brim next the face with coques of rose, blue, or green riband, which descend down the sides of the face. —Fashions for January 1835, La Belle Assemblée.
Now you know. And you can just call me Sherlock.
*It turns into the Court Magazine and Belle Assemblée in the course of its long career, and is often referenced as the Court Magazine. But the expert on the subject of ladies' magazines and their history is not me but author Candice Hern, to whom I refer you.
**A vivid red
Illustration, "Dig" by Sadie Wendell Mitchell, courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.