Friday, November 12, 2010

Dressing for Warmth

Note: Thanks to all who submitted suggestions for the title to my second Love Inspired Historical novel. My editor has not had an opportunity to pick the title yet, but I will let you know as soon as she does! We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Your comments on Marissa’s most recent fashion forecast got me thinking. It’s November, and I’m pulling out my warmer clothes. I’m sure most of you are doing the same. So, what did a nineteenth century young lady wear to stay warm?

For one thing, some exchanged their cotton and muslin petticoats for flannel. While sheer muslin still remained a big favorite for dresses for most of the early part of the century, young ladies sometimes exchanged it for wool. Instead of the daring necklines of spring and summer, colder-weather dresses had high necklines and sometimes ruffs. Winter dresses more often had long sleeves, and short-sleeved dresses were covered with a shawl, short cape, short jacket or all three!

When you ventured out of doors or just wanted more warmth, you had several choices:

A spencer: a short jacket coming just under the bust, with long sleeves. This might be made to match your dress, either in color or material, or it could be a contrast to your dress. As waistlines dropped over the century, so did the bottom of the spencer.

A pelisse or Redingote: a full-length coat with long sleeves, made from heavier fabrics lined with silk and perhaps trimmed with fur.

A cloak or mantle: a three-quarter or full-length cape generally made from wool or velvet for evenings. It might have a hood large enough to fit entirely over your bonnet. It might also be trimmed with fur like ermine, chinchilla, and sable.

A wrapping coat: a full-length coat with long sleeves but a lot of material so you could wrap yourself up in it. It would most likely be trimmed with fur and maybe even lined with it.

If you wanted a little extra warmth, you could cover any of these with a wool or cashmere shawl or a pelerine (a small cape coming just over your shoulders), and carry a tippet (a long thin scarf made of fur) or a gigantic fur muff. The combinations were truly up to your sense of fashion, as these ladies can attest.

Make mine a Redingote under a velvet mantle with a cashmere shawl to go, please! How about you?


QNPoohBear said...

That Redingote is gorgeous! I like the wrapping coat too. I think I'll wear that one since it's quite chilly outside.

Joanna said...

Oh I want the pretty pink cloak. I might be able to stand the cold a bit for the cloak. Simply because I adore the color and the full length of it.

Elizabeth W said...

Have apparently been visualizing pelisses wrong for years.

Also- chinchilla fur? Yikes! I am on a first name basis with two very sweet pet chinchillas, and would be sad to see them turned into literal fashion victims.

Robin Lemke said...

I love that Redingote also! In fact, I'd kinda like one now just to wear around...

Regina Scott said...

QNPoohBear and Mystery Robin--I know--I want that Redingote! We just got back from a quick trip to Spokane, north of us. It was hovering at the freezing mark, and so was I!

Joanna, I love cloaks! You can wrap them close or swirl them about defiantly.

Elizabeth W, I have a hard time with the fur too. Marissa has a pair of house rabbits, and I'm sure she'd faint to think of anyone wearing them!