Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Fashions for May 1843, Supposedly

Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Walking Dresses May 1843
Loretta reports:

I’ve referred many times to the massive amounts of stealing that went on in fashion magazines (and all other publications). As I was looking for a higher-quality image of the plate in the Magazine of the Beau Monde (at left), I stumbled on a fine example. And what makes it especially interesting is the La Mode fashion was listed for February 1843. However, since the plate from the Los Angeles Public Library online collection was detached from the original magazine, it's possible it was incorrectly dated.

If you will click here (right hand column; please scroll down), you’ll not only learn about the Louis XIII style of sleeve and other fashion trends, but you’ll come upon this  charming little note about a style of neckline:
Walking Dresses Feburary 1843

Walking Dresses 1843 Description
A general observation that may have been some time back made, by even a common observer, is the lowness of the corsage at the neck, which however it may be, or may not be, claimed to be the business of some to animadvert upon—it is our part simply to notify. This peculiarity still continues. Those who look particularly demure when travelling out of their province to criticise this fashion, and who advocate, or affect to advocate, a puritanism, in such matters, generally forget that their notions are just formed on what they happen to see, or accustomed to see for some time, in their little circle. Had they been used to see, as the common every-day wear, the style of costume worn at the ballet, and patronized by Her Majesty, and our leading nobility, such a tone of criticism would never have been ventured. In many Oriental countries the drapery of the female costume is carried over both extremities of the person, the eyes only being visible in the out door toilette. Who shall judge? The ladies themselves. What shall decide? Taste.

Magazine of the Beau Monde image: Walking & Promenade Dresses May 1843 courtesy Google Books. Fashion plate description. La Mode Image, courtesy Los Angeles Public Library, Casey Fashion Plates collection.

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.


History Underfoot said...

Delicious post - and I especially like the new word I learned: animadvert.

Regencyresearcher said...

The clothes are always those of the wealthy who didn't have to work or even wash their own dishes. It is hard to see a woman dressed in some of the outfits of the 18thc or post 1820's doing something a normal as changing a diaper or holding a teething baby. The clothes are for women as objects and not clothes for women who did anything.

Cassidy said...

The clothes are for women as objects and not clothes for women who did anything.

I strongly disagree. First of all, the idea of women wearing fine clothing in order to be "objects" is pretty dated - current scholarship generally frames the issue as the women themselves using their clothing to construct a persona that showed their wealth and taste. They were active consumers in the fashion trade.

Second, while yes, the fabric and amount of trim used in the high-end garments depicted in fashion plates would have been out of the range of working women, there wasn't a strong line delineating working from non-working women, or their clothing. Traveling down the social scale from pure women of leisure, there would be more and more women who had to take on more and more of the household duties - the middle-class housewife who had a maid-of-all-work to manage the cleaning and laundry but did the cooking and mending herself existed, for instance. Then, getting rid of most of the trim and making these dresses out of a cotton print or wool would pretty well adapt them to the needs of many women; the hemline could be raised a few inches and the armscye moved up to the shoulder to facilitate more movement. Women of all periods, not just the Regency, were able to perform activities in their clothing.

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