Tuesday, September 22, 2020

A Fine Harvest...of Tassels?

After an exceptionally hot and dry summer, the weather has suddenly turned cool and autumnal (though still dry) here in New England…and in fitting with that “hello Fall!” theme, I’m pleased to present, courtesy of the September 1810 (though the outfit is stated as being for October) of La Belle Assemblée, a “Pelisse Dress of Autumn.” And oh, what an outfit!

The description reads, A pelisse dress of autumnal brown sarsnet, made low in the neck, trimmed down the front and round the bottom with a rich trimming of vandyked white satin, ornamented with silver frogs; the sleeves buttoned on the inside of the arm, to correspond with the front of the dress; over the bosom is tied a light white net mantle, scalloped, and ornamented with acorn tassels. White satin bonnet, with a bunch of wheat in front, and short lace veil. Brown sandals and gloves. Green parasol.

The pelisse dress, on its own, is pretty snazzy, though the description and the image are somewhat at odds: the text describes the front trimming to be silver frogs (a popular borrowing from military uniforms), while the illustrations puts in tassels. The sleeves buttoning up the inside of the arm are a neat conceit, though the decorative panels over the breasts are not quite the thing (though this sort of thing appears in several La Belle Assemblée from around this time.) There appears to be either a white petticoat or underdress as well, which you can see peeping out below the vandyked hem.

The hat is…interesting. I rather think the bunch of wheat is a tad much, though certainly in keeping with the autumnal theme of the ensemble. The little face veil is fun and flirty, and can also be seen in several other outfits of the time in La Belle Assemblée. And the general tassel theme of the outfit is continued in the green parasol, ornamented with more of the same.

But it’s the white net mantle that really draws the attention: purely decorative, of course, as it doesn’t offer much in the way of warmth or shelter from the elements. But can’t you just see those deep ends of the “scollops” fluttering in a cool autumnal breeze?—unless, of course, the little acorn tassels (again, perfect for autumn!) weigh it down.

And of course, we can’t forget the fashion accessory at the lower right-hand side of the image. Were it two hundred or so years later, might this fashionable miss carry her dog in her reticule? 

What do you think? Will you be sporting tassels this fall? 😉

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