So what was the well-dressed young woman wearing in 1814?
She was certainly keeping cozy in this Promenade Dress from the January 1814 issue of Ackermann's Repository. Enormous fur muffs remain in fashion (as they will for several more years.) Perhaps she's off to the bookstore to pick up a copy of Lord Byron's latest release, The Corsair, which sold 10,000 copies on its first day:
Or perhaps she's off to a elegant private party in this lovely Evening Dress (Ackermann, February 1814). I liked this dress so well that it will be making an appearance in my upcoming book--note the cute little frill around the back of the bodice--and I love that green! Note that the waistline has crept back up again on both this dress and the pelisse above. By the way, February 1814 was the last time the Thames froze over sufficiently to permit a Frost Fair, a sort of giant impromptu festival/carnival held on the frozen river's surface. Changes to the bridges crosing the Thames after 1814 meant that the river flowed faster, and therefore never froze solid again:
Short capes were definitely "in" this year--several of Ackermann's 1814 fashion plates feature them. This is one is for a Walking Dress, featured in the April edition. By the way, April saw the abdication of Napoleon Bonaparte in France, and kicked off the most glittering and exciting social season London had seen in years:
If the young lady in this Morning Dress looks a little tired, no wonder: London was one enormous party just now, celebrating the end of the war. In town to help whoop it up were Tsar Alexander of Russia and his sister the Duchess of Oldeburg (on the prowl for a new husband) and King Frederick William of Prussia. But the most popular visitor was probably the Prussian general Gebhard von Blucher, who could barely show his face in public without being mobbed (Ackermann's Repository, June 1):
August 1814 saw more excitement in London: the huge public celebrations of the end of the wars and commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the accession of the Hanoverian dynasty. Among the events were a recreation of the Battle of the Nile on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, balloon ascensions, and fireworks. Perhaps a young lady might have worn this Walking Dress to take some of it in. I especially like the charming hat (Ackermann's, August 1):
Autumn saw a return to quiet in London, but in Vienna the art of the party got carried to extremes with the opening of the Congress of Vienna in early October. This giant negotiation to re-form Europe after Napoleon's defeat was as famous for its balls as for its political machinations...which often occurred simultaneously. I wonder if this contemplative young lady wished she were there? (Walking Dress, Ackermann's Repository, November 1814):
This Walking Dress from the December issue of Ackermann's Repository is just such fun! The plum color is gorgeous, and check out the multi-layered collar. That's a borrowing from the coachmen's coats of the day, which were made with several layers of shoulder capes to help shed rain (don't forget, the coachman sat out in the open when driving.) So this is meant to be a very dashing outfit!