Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fashion Forecast: 1821

What was the well-dressed young woman wearing in 1821?

She certainly wouldn’t have been missed in this cheerful Promenade Dress, colored, according to its description in January’s Ackermann’s Repository, “between a ruby and a geranium”. On the chair behind her is a pelisse of the same poplin fabric, but showing its white sarsnet lining. And once again, there’s one of those amazing ermine muffs! Note also the quizzing glass hanging from a chain about her neck ):

This Morning Dress is of a new style we’ll be seeing a lot of this year—it’s described as “A wrapping dress composed of cachemire: the waist is the usual length; the body comes up to the throat in the back of the neck, but is a little sloped in front, and turns all over so as to form a pelerine; it wraps across before, and displays a little of the fichu worn underneath. The back has a little fulness; it is of a moderate breadth, and a good deal sloped at the sides. The sleeve is easy, but not wide; it is finished at the wrist by folds of gros de Naples, to correspond in color with the dress. The girdle is also of gros de Naples; it is rather broad, and fastens with a gold clasp at the side. The skirt is moderately wide; it wraps across to the left side, and is fastened up the front with bows to correspond. Head-dress, a cornette composed of full bands of net inserted between plain ones of letting-in lace; the crown is remarkably low; the ears are cut very narrow, and far back; and it fastens with a full bow of pale pink ribbon under the chin. Black kid shoes. (February, Ackermann’s Repository):
How’s this for a charming Fancy Ball Dress? The high bodice is a confection of lace and ribbons, but it’s the roses about the lower edge of the skirt that are especially striking (though I bet they made dancing difficult!) Notice the mask she’s holding hear her face! (May, Ackermann’s Repository):
Hats! This print, also from May’s Ackermann's, offers a view of some rather extraordinary headgear…ruffles and a lot of artificial flower trim were definitely “in”!

I love this Evening Dress from June’s Ackermann’s…notice the oak leaf trim around the lower hem, topped by more flowers. The pointed bodice is unusual, and hearkens forward to the fashions coming later in the decade:
For sheer frou-frou delight is a Court Dress from October’s Ackermann’s…note the obligatory feathers, lace lappets hanging down on either side of her face, and the court train in pale yellow with appliques… très élégant! This would have been worn at the court of the now King George IV, who had been crowned in July:

I told you we’d see this style again…in fact, I have four other Ackermann's prints from 1821 featuring a wrap-style dress with large bows up the front or side. This Promenade Dress from the December issue also features a rather overgrown bonnet —yikes! What do you think of 1821’s fashions?

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