Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Accessories, Part 3: Gloves

We’re back for another installment in our fashion series on NineteenTeen focusing not on dresses and gowns (gorgeous as they are) but on the little things that complete a fashionable ensemble—hats, shoes, gloves, purses, and other accessories.
Today we’ll have a look at gloves. They were essential to any well-dressed woman’s costume—really, to anyone who pretended to the least social standing. Think about it—if you wore dainty white kid gloves all the time, you sure as heck weren’t a member of the laboring classes, were you? Gloves were an important social cue to where their wearer stood in the social hierarchy.

Gloves appear to fall into a few basic types, based on the time of day and occasions for which they were worn.  During the day you'll often see shorter (wrist length) gloves in a dark buff color: these were known as York Tan (though not all were made in York), and they remained popular for day wear for decades for a very simple reason--they camouflaged dirt far better than white gloves would. And since no lady could be seen in soiled gloves, wearing tan gloves to start with made oodles of sense. Though I have not seen references to them in any Ackermanns' prints, "chicken-skin" gloves in a similar shade were also popular--not truly made of chicken skin, but of the skin of unborn calves (and sometimes kids and sheep). They were made in Limerick, Ireland and were of such thinness that they were packaged in walnut shells to be sold (what a sales gimmick!) Gloves dyed to match specific outfits were also seen slightly later in our period.

For evening wear, longer gloves of white kidskin were de rigeuer; fashions for decoration and embellishment (I adore the ruffled ones!) came and went.

Look for lots of images rather than commentary, though I’ll try to supply original text if I have it—the point is to be able to examine multiple examples of each item. Images are drawn from my collection of prints from British publications including Ackermann’s Repository, La Belle Assemblée, The Lady’s Magazine, Phillips’ Fashions of London and Paris, and others. However, Ackermann’s had the most detailed plates, so the majority of images you’ll see will be from that publication.  These date from 1809-1821.  Enjoy!

 Evening Full Dress, January 1809:

Opera Dress, March 1809:

Walking Costume, August 1809:

Morning Walking Dress, November 1809 (note that York Tan gloves often had the stitching detail on the back of the hand):

Morning Dress, March 1810:

Morning Walking or Carriage Costume, December 1810 (gloves dyed to match the mantle?):

Evening Dresses, January 1811:

Mourning Dress, December 1811 (notice the black glove):

Evening Full Dress, March 1812:

Ball Dress, June 1815:

Evening Dress, December 1815 (note the ruffles!):

Carriage Dress, February 1817 (gloves AND a muff!):

Evening Dress, January 1818 (again, black for mourning):

Evening Dress, September 1818:

Walking Dress, May 1819:

Evening Dress, July 1819 (notice the bow decorating the top edge):

Evening Dress, October 1819 (more decorative touches, this time a sort of ruff):

Evening Dress, January 1820 (another bow decoration):

Evening Dress, April 1820 (another bow):

Evening Dress, June 1820:

Walking Dress, October 1820 (another example of dyed gloves):


Anonymous said...

Morning Dress, March 1810: Is the person modeling this particular dress, um, in confinement?

Marissa Doyle said...

Ha! No, but she had been--she's hugging a toddler who's thrown his arms around her neck.

Marissa Doyle said...

Also, I've not yet seen a fashion plate showing someone in an interesting condition, but I do have one showing a dress suitable for nursing mothers.

Anonymous said...

Ah. Now I see the toddler! There must have been patterns for pregnancy clothing even if it wasn't deemed seemly to publish them. I wonder if dressmakers had their own secret source of Very At Home dress patterns.

Marissa Doyle said...

Well, at least through the early 1820s, waistlines were high enough that maternity gowns probably weren't a necessity--you could get away with what you already had (or added an extra panel of fabric to a few dresses if the skirts weren't sufficiently voluminous.) I'm not sure if it was an issue of "seemliness"--attitudes toward pregnancy didn't start taking a turn to Victorian prudishness till post-Regency. I think it was more likely the same reason one doesn't see maternity fashions in, say, Vogue--Ackermanns and La Belle Assemblee and the other magazines I show fashions from here are selling an idealized image just as much as current magazines do...and maternity fashions don't quite fit in to that.