Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fashion Forecast: 1815

Time for more eye candy!

What was the well-dressed young woman wearing in 1815?

1815 was, of course, a momentous year in European history as it saw the final defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte by a combined English, Dutch, and Prussian army under the Duke of Wellington and General Blucher.

In January, however, this was all in the future; the Congress of Vienna still hashed over the terms of the new Europe, Napoleon was apparently contained in exile on Elba, and England got used to the reality of peace again. Equally serene is this charming Evening Dress from Ackermann’s Repository. Note the pretty embroidered hem and the becoming upswept hair style:
In February that serenity was shattered with news of the escape of Napoleon from Elba and his nearly unopposed March on Paris, which greeted him rapturously. Was the young lady in this graceful and very classically inspired Evening Dress from Ackermann’s Repository contemplating a suddenly uncertain future?:
I just adore this Ackermann print, as one of the characters in my upcoming book has a pet parakeet who plays an important role in the plot in April 1815, when this print was published. That’s quite an elaborate cap for a morning dress, don’t you think?:
In June came the Battle of Waterloo, as mentioned above. Wellington’s “near run thing” captured the popular imagination…and led to merchandising opportunities. I don’t have a date for this print from La Belle Assemblee, but I would dearly like to know just what made it a “Waterloo Walking Dress”!:
Charming is the first word that comes to mind when looking at this Promenade Dress from the August edition of Ackermann. Note the quizzing glass, an essential item when strolling in the park in order to see and be seen. Note also that the waist has crept up on most of the dresses in 1815, after bouncing around a bit in earlier years:
I love the sleeves on this Dinner Dress from September’s Ackermann’s Repository. This very Renaissance look will stay in style for the next decade or so. I also like the Vandyke collar:
Let’s end with a burst of color! England was suffering through an economic depression caused by the end of the war, and social unrest would be a major feature if life for the next several years…but Napoleon had been sent to a tiny island in the middle of the barren South Atlantic. The long years of war were over.

I don’t have the text accompanying this print, but I would dearly like to know if the flowers decorating the hem of this show-stopping Evening Dress were real or artificial. Notice the ruffles at the hem of her gloves and the interesting chunky necklace she’s wearing! (Ackermann’s Repository, December 1815):

What do you think of 1815’s fashions?


Rachel said...

They are all lovely! My fave is the Dinner Dress from September’s Ackermann’s Repository.

LOL Who would have thought that quizzing glasses would be a fashion?!?

Marissa Doyle said...

I think I have to write a post on them, Rachel. They were definitely a fashion accessory!

Vicky said...

I'm still unclear on the difference between a morning dress and a walking dress.

Marissa Doyle said...

A morning dress is just that--what you wore at home in the morning (and "morning" meant pretty much any time before dinner, just as a "breakfast" could be served at 3 in the afternoon). It's what you put on when you were staying home and doing things like answering letters and darning stockings and so on.

A walking dress was what you put on when you were going out--for a walk, to go shopping or do errands, to pay calls. Obviously you wore a more utilitarian dress for shopping, and something a little more posh for paying calls.

Gillian Layne said...

I would dearly love that last evening dress. I am having a fit of pink lately, and all those ruffles and flowers look wonderful.

I'm imagining pretty colored stones for that necklace.

ChaChaneen said...

I thinking I need all those lovely dresses! ha ha By the way, I got my copy of Cotillion yesterday at the library! I'm ready to start reading for the book club - yahoo!

Ann Herrick said...

Those women knew how to dress up!

Marissa Doyle said...

The pink dress IS pretty, Gillian--I love that sort of cinnamon pink.

Glad to hear you've started on Cotillion. :)