Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fashion Forecast: 1812

What was the well-dressed young woman wearing in 1812?

Europe was still completely in the throes of war: 1812 saw Napoleon's disastrous attempt to invade Russia as well as the victories of Welllington's armies in the Peninsula, effectively forcing France out of Spain. These events were followed closely back in London, and fashions were often named after military or other important events. Which is why we have here a Polish Walking Pelisse, looking rather dashingly military with all that frogging down the front (poor Poland was being carved up once again over the course of 1812 and 1813 by France, Russia, Prussia, and Austria). From the January 1 Ackermann's Repository:

Waists were still wandering, as we saw in 1811. This very comfortable looking Half Dress is rather in-between, neither high nor low--perfect for a morning's shopping expedition to Oxford Street or for a visit to Bullock's Museum, which opened its newly built Egyptian Hall in 1812 (January 1, Ackermann's Repository):

I have the original description for this handsome Ball Dress from February 1st's Ackermann's: "A round Grecian robe of white crape, gossamer net, or leno, embroidered up the front, and round the bottom, with a fancy border in marigold chenille; an antique bodice of marigold velvet, trimmed with vandyke lace or white bugle trimming; short full sleeves, same as the robe, finished with bands of marigold velvet. Slippers of the same, with silver clasps, or roses. A square veil of fine Mechlin lace, fancifully disposed over the hair, which is seen in irregular curls beneath. Necklace and corresponding ornaments of the satin bead or pearl. Gloves of French kid, below the elbow. Fan of carved ivory." Very handsome!:

I rather like the bodice on this elegant Evening Full Dress: look closely and you'll see it's decorated with rows of what looks like dangling pearl beading, with little tear-drop pendants at the ends of rows. I also find it interesting to notice how loose-fitting her gloves seem to be, bunching down in casual folds rather than tight to the arm (March 1, Ackermann's):

As lovely as the ball and evening dresses are, I'm always interested to run across plates showing what one wore at home, when dealing with the less romantic aspects of life like writing letters and tending to embroidery. From the April 1st Ackermann's we have here a Morning or Domestic Costume-- "A superfine Scotch or French cambric over a cambric slip, with full ong sleeve, and ruff a la Mary Queen of Scots. A neck-chain and sight [quizzing glass] set in gold; bracelets and necklace of white or red carnelian. A Flora cap, composed of white satin and lace. A capuchin or French cloak of blossom satin, or Pomona green, trimmed with thread lace. Slippers of pale pink or green kid; and gloves of tan or Limerick kid":

I love this next plate, a Promenade or Carriage Costume: "A round spencer robe of blossom-coloured sarsnet, trimmed with tufted Chinese silk fringe; a drapery of deep vandyke black lace, continued round the back and shoulders to the bottom, in the loose Polonaise style; the spencer sitting close to the throat, without a collar, which is supplied by that of the morning robe of white muslin beneath. A provincial bonnet of the same material as the spencer, ornamented with two curled white ostrich feathers, placed in adverse directions in front. Half-boots of blossom-colored kid; redicule to correspond; and gloves of lemon-coloured kid, or pale tan colour." Isn't the bobble fringe adorable? And again, this costume could almost as easily pass for 1912 as 1812 (Ackermann, May 1):

Here's another Domestic or Morning Costume (Ackermann's, May 1), which I'm including mostly because I love the props she's shown with and the note which accompanies the description: "The peculiar taste and elegant simplicity of these habiliments are further specimens of the graceful invention of the celebrated Mrs. Gill, of Cork-street, Burlington-gardens, from whom we have obtained them."
This Promenade or Walking Dress is an interesting design (note the slightly gathered sleeves), but I do wonder why she's holding her parasol by the top rather than by the handle--a pose I've seen in many prints of the time (Ackermann's, July 1):

The full gathered sleeve style is more noticeable in this Evening Dress from the September 1 Ackermann's, along with a very high waist:

Another scrumptious Evening Dress featuring a colored bodice and white skirt, a look that will remain in fashion for years. And what a jaunty hat! I wish I had the description to this one. (Ackermann's, November 1):

And now, to borrow a phrase, for something completely different: a non-Ackermann plate! This charming London Fashionable Morning Dress has a wonderful fur-edged short cloak worm asymmetrically on one shoulder--unexpectedly chic! (Lady's Magazine, November):

What do you think of 1812's fashion parade?


Dara said...

I love it :) So simple yet elegant. I think the walking dress and the last ball gown with the pink in it are my favorites.

Anonymous said...

I'm happy to see the colored top and white skirt combination, as I plan to re-do an outfit that has a white satin underdress. My current overdress covers most of the underdress, but I'm planning a light blue "topper" that will show off the white underdress from the waist down! - Kristen

Joanna said...

oh so they did wear those ruffles at the top of the neck in the 1810s. I was wondering about that after seeing the Bright Star.

One of the dresses that the main character wears in the movie though rather hideousness, has those and I couldnt remember if they wore them or not then lol.

Oh and Marissa, I bought Betraying Season. (Can't put it down) And I finally got La Petite Four coming from Amazon soon.

Marissa Doyle said...

Oh, thank you, Joanna!

Yes, they wore those high neck ruffles--even occasionally did Elizabethan-ish ruffs as well.

I've got Bright Star on order, since I didn't get to see it in the theater.

Kristen, let us know when your dress is re-done!

Iron Chef Kosher! said...

Holding a parasol by the handle was, for some strange reason, considered vulgar unless you were actually *using* it.

RobB said...

Could that fur-trimmed thing in the last picture be some form of pelisse?

Marissa Doyle said...

Since it doesn't seem to have sleeves, I don't think so, though it resembles the military garment.