Thursday, July 16, 2015

Jane Austen and the Pelisse

Thursday, July 16, 2015
Walking Dress March 1809
Loretta reports:

Readers of Regency era stories will have encountered pelisses from time to time, but not all will have a clear picture in mind.

According to Jane Ashelford’s The Art of Dress, “During the first five years of the nineteenth century the pelisse was half-way between an over-tunic* and a coat. It was usually made with long sleeves and a high waist, and was knee-length, extending to the ankles only after 1810.”**

Nancy Bradfield’s Costume in Detail offers on page 97 an illustration of the construction of this 1816 caped coat or pelisse. And on pages 133-34 she provides a detailed look at this ca 1826-28 blue woolen cloth coat or pelisse.

Here’s a beautiful pelisse ca 1820, probably American.

For this quick tour of the pelisse world, you can thank alert reader Jill Sardella, who sent me to a set of blog posts about a pelisse believed to have belonged to Jane Austen, the project to reconstruct it, and the resulting article.  The garment is a historical mystery: Will we ever be absolutely certain it was hers? My optimistic self believes that one of these days, a really good portrait of Jane Austen will turn up somewhere. And so of course I believe we’ll one day know definitely whether she wore this pelisse.
Morning Dress 1800

*I’ve seen the shorter lengths called “demi-pelisse.”

**The 1800 November fashion plate description reads: "Pelise of shot-silk, lined with pink. A ruff round the neck, and full at the bosom." You will note that it reaches the ground, which contradicts Ms. Ashelford's dating.

Image at top courtesy Internet Archive. Image below courtesy Google Books.

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.


Regencyresearcher said...

When a cavalry man is noted as wearing a pelisse he is usually wearing a fur lined garment that seems half cloak and half coat. . According to one source a pelisse was supposed to be lined with fur. Another writer says that there were silk ones made with batting between the two layers of silk. I am more interested in how the ladies of 1800 kept from having the bottoms of their garments absolutely filthy from dragging on the ground.

Julie said...

I contributed to the effort to make the article about the pelisse available to the public. In exchange, the article's author is sending out swatches of the reproduction fabric. They are expected to arrive in our mailboxes later in the year. I am very much looking forward to seeing it.

Jan said...

A cavalryman's pelisse is not a cloak; it is a short, tightly cut over-jacket, usually with extravagant braidwork on the chest and often with fur lining extending to the collar and cuffs. When not being worn over the soldier's jacket or tunic, it is slung over one shoulder on a cord or lanyard, which perhaps leads to the confusion of it with a cloak.

Théodore Géricault's famous painting, "The Charging Chasseur, or An Officer of the Imperial Horse Guards Charging" shows an officer wearing a red pelisse with white fur lining, which is billowing out behind him as he turns toward the viewer. The same artist painted "Trompette de Hussards (trumpeter of hussars)", in which the subject is wearing a white pelisse with dark fur lining, which is slung to cover his left shoulder.

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