Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Pretty Interesting in Pink

What might you have worn for an evening party 210 years ago? Maybe this?



Er, maybe not. But let’s have a look anyway at this offering from La Belle Assemblée, May 1812:


No. 1 - Evening Dress  An embroidered white crape, or fine India muslin frock, with long sleeves, and trimmed round the bottom with fine lace, set on full, worn over a blush colour satin or sarsnet slip; the frock ornamented down the front of the skirt with beads and lace in the Egyptian style. Parisian mob, worn unfastened, of puckered pink, and white crape over pink satin. Small pink satin tippet, with full plaiting of lace. Cestus of pale pink, confined by a clasp of pearl. Pink satin slippers, with white rosettes. The jewellery worn with this dress is the shaded cornelian, or large pearls.


Reading the description, I think this might, in many ways, have been a rather pretty dress: picture very, very fine, sheer white embroidered muslin over a pale pink underdress, so that as the wearer moved, your attention might be drawn by the embroidery one minute, and by the color the next. The oblong panels “in the Egyptian style” (and I’d love to know what makes them particularly ‘Egyptian’) aren’t very attractive by modern standards, though, nor is the pink satin “tippet”, or scarf around the shoulders, unless it drapes in an interesting way or offers some other visual interest in the back. A cestus is a belt; what's noteworthy here is that it appears almost at the natural waist, rather than up under the bust.


The hat—a “Parisian mob” (and now all I can think of is A Tale of Two Cities!) is "interesting" as well—not the mental picture I have of a mob cap, but more almost like a pair of kerchiefs.


All in all, not one of La Belle Assemblée’s more noteworthy efforts, but it has its charms. What do you think?

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