Monday, February 1, 2016

Fashions for February 1812

Monday, February 1, 2016
Ball Dress February 1812
Loretta reports:

Though I took a detour to 1836 for last month's fashion plate, in order to illustrate my latest book, I’m hoping this year to show you the evolution of style, decade by decade. Of course, if something irresistibly fabulous turns up in the “wrong” era, we’ll make another detour.

But today we’re looking at Regency—interpreting the term very narrowly this time as the period from 1811 to 1820, when the Prince of Wales became Prince Regent because the reigning monarch, King George III, was too ill to rule. (Social historians and others, however, tend to refer to a broader period, which Wikipedia concisely summarizes here, in the second paragraph.)
Walking Dress February 1812

These two dresses, though, fall smack dab into the Prince Regent’s time, with the classic vertical muslin styles we associate with Pride and Prejudice, and which happen to be illustrated in especially beautiful prints in Ackermann’s Repository.
Dress Description February 1812

I would call your attention to the description of the hat, which I would love to see in real life.

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.


Hels said...

Grecian robes were usually elegantly designed so there was no need for over-the-top decoration. Yet these dresses had net, jewellery, silver, ivory, pearls, crepe, lace and every other addition possible. I may have to rethink my notion of beautiful but simple Regency outfits.

Cathy Spencer said...

Interesting that "drab" is referred to as a colour. What colour would that be?

LorettaChase said...

Hels, are we sure the ladies didn't accessorize? I haven't researched this area, so am curious. Cathy, I am away from home and can't reach over to my bookshelf to pull out my book on historical color, Elephant's Breath and London Smoke. Maybe one of our readers can offer precise info. Going by the image, it looks to be a sort of beige or tan.

Elizabeth J said...

These dresses remind me of something a professor mentioned in a Russian history lecture - that women used to wear these dresses when they were slightly damp, so they would cling. I'd be curious to know whether that's true. He thought this fashion was unfortunate for Russia!

LorettaChase said...

From what we've been able to ascertain, this was a myth, which we suspect was promoted by Victorians. To them, the slim silhouette must have looked obscenely revealing--as did, later, the flat-front dresses with the bustle. Too, the slim silhouette did upset the older generation, much in the way mini skirts and bell-bottoms upset our parents/grandparents. It's not _impossible_ that courtesans dampened their clothing, but that seems not only uncomfortable but very risky in Northern European climates, at a time when a common cold could kill a person. I strongly doubt Russian women did this. The dresses were deemed quite revealing as they were, dry—and women of a certain profession had many other ways of displaying their wares.

Christina Mitchell said...

Drab was described as a cloth and colour. The Dictionary of Fashion History defines drab as ' a thick, strong cloth, usually twilled, of a dull brown or grey colour." Drab colours in 1812 are very well described here;

LorettaChase said...

Thank you, Christina!

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