Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fashion Forecast: 1816

What was the well-dressed young lady wearing in 1816?

If she were a client of Mrs. Bean of Albemarle Street, she might wear this Carriage Dress (Ackermann's Repository, January 1816). It is "A high dress, composed of the finest dark blue ladies' cloth; it is made up to the throat, but without a collar, has a slight fulness in the back, and falls very much off the shoulder; the front is tight to the shape, and the waist very short. The trimming is in dark blue satin, to correspond; it is cut byas (on the bias) laid on double and very full: long plain sleeve, finished at the wrist with satin; French riff of very rich lace. Head-dress a la mode de Paris; it is a cap composed of white lace, and ornamented with two rolls of ribbon to correspond: the form of this cap is in the highest degree original." Perhaps our young lady wore it when going to view the former Emperor Napoleon's carriage, which was a popular display at Bullock's Museum this month:

There’s a definite eastern influence visible in the headdress of this Evening Dress…and aren’t the blue-and-white striped fabric and blue bows adorable? (Ackermann’s Repository, March 1816):1816 saw the debut of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville…perhaps our fashionable young lady wore this Opera Dress to see it...though anyone sitting behind her might not have had a very good view! It consists of a “White satin slip, over which is a white lace skirt, finished with satin tucks, and a rich flounce of deep blond at the bottom. The body is composed of white satin and white lace; it is uncommonly novel and elegant. The sleeve, which is long, is also composed of satin and lace; its form is original, and the manner in which it is finished at the wrist is singularly tasteful and elegant. The hair is disposed so as to display the forehead, and falls in soft loose curls at each side. Head-dress the Berlin cap composed of white satin, lower part ornamented with a rich gold band, and the crown a profusion of beautiful short ostrich feathers, disposed with much taste and novelty. The Berlin cap, is, in our opinion, the most generally becoming head-dress which has been introduced for some seasons.” (Ackermann’s Repository, April 1816):White seems to have been the color of 1816; almost every dress in the prints I own for this year are white, sometimes touched with a little color. But this Evening Dress doesn’t need color as far as I’m concerned—isn’t it simply elegant with the not-too-fussily embellished hem and full sleeves? (Ackermann’s Repository, August 1816): 1816 was a year of departures: it saw the deaths of playwright and politician Richard Brinsley Sheridan and actress (and mistress to the future William IV) Dorothea Jordan. Other departures were those of Beau Brummell and Lord Byron, to live (and eventually die, as it turned out) on the continent. Also “stepping out” was our young lady in this handsome Walking Dress (Ackermann’s Repository, August 1816). I particularly like the shaped cuffs and the plain white ribbon trim on the pelisse: This Ball Dress from October is also a charmer—don’t you love the roses about the hem? Perhaps our young lady wore this at one of the balls celebrating the marriage of Princess Charlotte, daughter of the Prince Regent, to Leopold of Saxe-Coburg. Unfortunately, their marriage would end two short years later, when Charlotte died in childbirth (paving the way for the birth of Leopold’s niece, Victoria)…but meanwhile, England rejoiced at the marriage of the popular princess. (Ackermann’s Repository, October 1816): Polly want a Morning Dress? Our fashionable young lady spends a quiet moment at home with her pet parakeet, in a wonderfully frothy dress and cap. I like the tiny colorful scarf she wears about her neck. (Ackermann’s Repository, November 1816): What do you think of 1816's fashions?


Liviania said...

I think I like the ball dress best. I'd certainly go to see the Barber of Seville, however. Love Rossini.

Anonymous said...

All pretty dresses but that ball dress has smitten me as particularly gorgeous. (And ooh, the gloves with the opera dress are charming!)

I can't admire the headdresses much, though - don't they look awkward to manage! After scrutiny of the carriage dress print, I can only agree with its description: the cap is certainly in the highest degree original ... the first example of antigravity, perhaps?

What a great post, thank you. :)

Anonymous said...

The carriages must have been pretty tall to have accommodated those hats!

Marissa Doyle said...

They appear to have been, Anne. I got my hands on an Ackermann orint that shows the inside of a carriage, and I'll post it sometime soon.