Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Just Because

I think it’s time for some fashionable eye candy, courtesy of La Belle Assemblée. There’s something very relaxing about contemplating many of these prints, and this one, from the January 1810 issue showing fashions for February, is particularly pretty:

Evening Dress

A jacket of pale buff Merino cloth, with antique stomacher, richly embroidered in green chenille, finished with silk tassels; a fine India muslin petticoat and train, embroidered round the bottom with a trimming to correspond, and worn over a white satin slip. A Spanish cap of cloth and green satin, of the same colour as the dress, ornamented with a long green drooping ostrich feather, border similar to the dress. A French shawl of ruby coloured silk. Emerald necklace and earrings. Green kid slippers with silver roses. Limerick gloves. The hair on the forehead in short ringlets, with a long Theresa curl flowing gracefully over the left shoulder.

I’m fascinated by the construction of the “jacket” : it’s very abbreviated, with the front consisting of the stomacher (the decorated piece over the bust and tummy) and a strappy belt. I’ll bet it would have been a pain in the you-know-what to wear—probably shifting all over the place unless one sat or stood very still (or had pinned it into place!)—but it’s quite charming in an illustration (and I like the sneaky way the artist gave us the peplum-ish back view on the lady descending the stairs at right!) The embroidery around the hem of the muslin petticoat completes it nicely. And the tassels—I love tassels. 😍  And then there are her gloves: we learned about tan Limerick glovesmade of exquisitely fine calfskinin the Accessories series.

The hat is quite a confection itself, with the matching chenille embroidery, that ostrich feather (!), and the insouciant long curl “flowing gracefully” over one shoulder; evidently one should not have cut one’s hair into a fashionable crop to sport this look. The image does not include the “emerald necklace and earrings” suggested in the text, but I kind of like the jaunty gold hoops and big pearl necklace—combined with the hat, they have an almost piratical air.  And of course, even though the Peninsular War raged on, a “French shawl” was still acceptable, because fashion.

What do you think of this decorative, if improbable, ensemble? 

And just a quick note: Regina and I will be taking a few days off to enjoy the Independence Day holiday. We hope you'll enjoy your holiday as well!

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