Monday, August 30, 2010

Riding Habit 1817

Monday, August 30, 2010
Loretta reports:

I'm always thrilled to find riding habits and court dresses in the fashion magazines, because these are not nearly so common as evening dresses and walking dresses.  This is one very like what I had imagined my heroine Zoe (of Don't Tempt Me) wearing.

I cannot pin down the "Glengary" element, since it doesn't correspond with definitions I've found elsewhere, including Louis Harmuth's 1915 Dictionary of Textiles.  The cap doesn't look like today's idea of a Glengarry cap, and, being made of satin, doesn't fit the "mottled wool" definition below.  Perhaps one of our knowledgeable readers can enlighten us.

From Ackermann's Repository of Arts, Literature, Fashions, Manufactures, &c., The Second Series, Vol. IV. September 1,  1817.  No. XXI

Is composed of the finest pale blue cloth,** and richly ornamented with frogs and braiding to correspond. The front, which is braided on each side, fastens under the body of the habit, which slopes down on each side in a very novel style, and in such a manner as to form the shape to considerable advantage. The epaulettes and jacket are braided to correspond with the front, as is also the bottom of the sleeve, which is braided nearly half way up the arm. Habit-shirt, composed of cambric, with a high standing collar, trimmed with lace. Cravat of soft muslin, richly worked at the ends, and tied in a full bow. Narrow lace ruffles. Head-dress, the Glengary cap, composed of blue satin, and trimmed with plaited ribbon of various shades of blue, and a superb plume of feathers. Blue kid gloves, and half-boots.

*Glengarry—All-wool, mottled English tweed.  (?????)

**Cloth—1, general term for fulled woolen fabrics; 2, general term for any textile fabric having some body; 3, medieval English worsted made six yards long and two yards wide.


Chris Woodyard said...

Hi, Loretta, In this case, I believe the term Glengary comes from a military hat. The illustration makes it plain that this gown is inspired by a uniform--and, given the name, probably a Scottish one. This is what I found on Wikipedia (sorry not to be more scholarly!)

The bonnet was made part of the uniform of the Glengarry Fencibles when they were formed in 1794 by Alasdair Ranaldson MacDonell of Glengarry, of Clan MacDonnell of Glengarry, who has been described as having invented the cap, though it may have originated earlier when Balmoral bonnets were bent and creased.[1] In his Dictionary of Military Uniform, W. Y. Carman notes that that first recorded military use of the Glengarry may have been that of a piper of the 74th Foot. It is not clear whether earlier pictures of civilians or fencible infantry show a true Glengarry or simply a folded highland bonnet.

So, not a fabric, but a military cap, which goes with the military style frogs and epaulettes. And, of course, riding habits have long been inspired by military fashions.

Chris Woodyard said...

Here's a portrait showing a Glengarry cap. You can see how the fashionable cap exaggerates the shape.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the 'glengarry' reference to this hat applies to the checkered band. This is called 'dicing', and in traditional glengarry caps is made from milled, or felted, wool. But in this case, the same effect must have been made from the plaited/woven silk ribbons. A smart little turnout!

LorettaChase said...

Chris, I did look at those articles, but wondered, because of the shape and material, if that was the whole story. Anonymous,now I'm looking at the checkered band and feeling enlightenment. I love getting to the bottom of the fashion terms. This morning I was trying to figure out whether an extremely terse description of a dress as "silk batiste" had to do solely with silk batiste as we understand it, or referred to silk embroidery on, say, muslin. I'm going with a printed silk batiste until further notice.

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