What was the well-dressed young lady wearing in 1817?
Well, in January she was certainly keeping cozy with a simply enormous ermine muff worn with a pretty blue Carriage Dress (in Ackermann's Repository). The deep flounce of lace about the hem is interesting in light of the fact that the following month would see the last major Luddite attack against the new manufactories--this one against lace-making machines in Loughborough: Isn't this dress just charming? Alas, this February print from La Belle Assemblee is missing its caption, but I'm guessing that this is an evening or dinner dress. Note the sheer sleeves--a style that will phase in and out of fashion for the next ten years. Notice too that waists are very high this year--just under the bust, in fact:1817 saw the introduction of gas lighting at Covent Garden theatre; perhaps our well-dressed young woman wore this Opera Dress (March, Ackermann's Repository) there. I have the original description for this one: A blue crape dress over a white satin slip; the dress trimmed round the skirt with a deep blond lace, which is headed with a light and novel trimming, composed of white floss silk and small pearl beads: this trimming is surmounted with a beautiful deep embroidery of lilies surrounded by leaves. The body and sleeves of this dress, as our readers will perceive by our print, are extremely novel. Head-dress, toque a la Berri; it is a crown of a novel form, tastefully ornamented round the top with lilies to correspond with the trimming of the skirt, and a plume of white feathers, which droop over the face. Earrings, necklace, and bracelets, sapphire mixed with pearl. The hair is dressed in loose light ringlets on the forehead, and disposed in full curls in the back of the neck. White kid gloves, and white satin slippers:I had to include this Evening Dress from the May edition of Ackermann's Repository just because it is so dainty and sweet. Note the sheer overskirt ornamented with a rose garland over the pink underdress, and the matching rose head-dress. So pretty!Now, how's this for dashing? This is The Glengary Habit from the September Ackermann's, and it's a stunner--note the military-looking epaulettes on the shoulders and frogging over the bust, and that checkerboard-effect on the hat (I'm guessing it's woven ribbon). The skirts of riding habits were very long, so that women's legs would be adequately covered when up on a sidesaddle. Tally ho!1817 also saw the establishment of the famous (or infamous) Elgin Marbles in their permanent home in the British Museum. Maybe our young lady wore this Promenade Dress to view them...and let's hope no one got stuck behind her, because that's a very large bonnet! (Ackermann's Repository, October):It wouldn't be a Fashion Forecast without a Ball Dress, right? Here's one from the November Ackermann's Repository with a beautiful scalloped lace hem, unusual chevron-striped sleeves, the very high waist that was much in evidence this year, and a rather peculiar head-dress: 1817 ended on a somber note, and indeed two tragedies struck England this year: July saw the death at age 41 of our beloved Jane Austen, and November the death in childbirth of Princess Charlotte and her son. Charlotte was the only legitimate grandchild of King George III, and her death led directly to the great marital race among his sons that resulted in the birth of Princess (later Queen) Victoria. Social life did not end, but court mourning was ordered, and women of fashion followed as can be seen by this Evening Dress from December's Ackermann's Repository. It's sober, but I think it very handsome:What do you think of 1817's fashions?