Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Summer Cape-r


Another delightful offering from La Belle Assemblée…may I present a most delightful Morning Walking Dress, from the June 1810 edition?


No. 2.— Morning Walking Dress

A round dress of thick fine India muslin, made high in the neck, with long sleeves, which are trimmed at the wrists with a narrow edging of lace; a lace let in round the bottom of the dress between four rows of small tucks. A light sky-blue mantle, lined with pale buff, with elastic collar, which is formed with letting-in lace, and has the appearance of a full collar, but will, if required, by drawing over the head, form a very pretty and becoming bonnet; a cape of the same materials crosses the back, which is confined at the bottom of the waist, on the inside, with a pale blue or buff ribband, tied with a bow in the front; it is entirely trimmed round with [a] narrow edging of lace. A bonnet of straw, and pale-blue ribband, with plaiting of lace, worn underneath, tied under the chin; with a yellow rose in the front, and hair in ringlet curls, completes the dress. Gloves of pale-buff. Boots of the same colour, calashed and laced with pale blue.

Hmm, there’s a lot going on here. The dress itself seems straight-forward; it’s the mantle that is so noteworthy. I’m intrigued by the “elastic collar” that can be drawn up in a sort of hood: it sounds almost like an 18th century calash or calèche, a type of head covering with stiff ribs that could be folded down or drawn up over the fashionable high coiffures of the era. The crossed-over flaps of the cape are an unusual touch, I think—lending visual interest to the back rather than the front.

The bonnet is appro-priately light and airy, a not-too-extreme poke style (though a bit more of a brim might have been welcome to prevent freckles when out walking…) 


Also of interest are the boots, described as “calashed.” I’m not sure how that term applies to boots—as we’ve seen, a calash describes millinery, not shoemaking. Any guesses out there? The blue shoelaces on the buff boots are a lot of fun, though.

I know that all faithful NineteenTeen readers will rush right out to their modistes to have this ensemble made for their own morning walks…right?

Well, maybe not this summer.


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