Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fashion Forecast: 1818

First, thank you so much for your title suggestions for Book 3! I'll be using them to put together a list for my editor, and when we have a title, I'll let you know...unless I have to come back for a second round of Name that Book (let's hope not!) In the meanwhile, the winners of the drawing are Jessica and Aimeestates! Ladies, please contact me through the form on my website so we can arrange my sending you your choice of book.

Now... What was the fashionable young lady wearing in 1818?

In the early months of 1818, society was still in mourning for the death of Princess Charlotte of Wales and her son in childbirth, and fashion reflected it as you can see in this Carriage Dress from the January issue of Ackermann's Repository. This isn't the last time we'll see mourning this year: And because of Princess Charlotte's death, there was a mad rush among the brothers of the Prince Regent to marry in order to produce an heir to the throne. Maybe that's why Ackermann's featured a Bridal Dress in its April issue. Note that the waistline is as high as ever; it will stay just under the bust for another couple of years. The applique around the skirt is very pretty, but this is not as elaborate as wedding dresses will be later in the century: 1818 was, however, a good year for book lovers: it saw the posthumous publication of two Jane Austen novels (Northanger Abbey and Persuasion), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, and several poems by Keats. Maybe our young lady will venture forth to Hatchard's Book Shop in this Morning Dress in pursuit of one of them--the pale pink pelisse is quite pretty, but the bonnet is rather fearsome, don't you think? (August, Ackermann's Repository): On the other hand, this Evening Dress that appeared in the October edition of Ackermann's Repository features a much smaller headdress. Note again the applique work and flounces around the lower skirt; this fashion will also persist for several years, right through the 1820s. Note also her shawl: with increased trade from India starting in the late 18th century, shawls from the sub-continent in silk and wool became prized fashion accessories. And I have to admit that I love the tiny pink and white striped puff sleeves on this dress, rather like a peppermint ball! Here's another spectacular shawl, worn with a Walking Dress (Ackermann, November). On closer examination you can see she also has a smaller shawl or scarf with fringe tied round her neck. And that collar is downright Elizabethan! I said that we weren't through with mourning clothes for the year: in November, Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, died at age 74. But being in mourning did not mean being out of fashion: here's another Walking Dress with a truly monumental bonnet and very attractive rows of pleating and flounces around the hem of the pelisse, and an Evening Dress with black gauze sleeves. Note that both hairstyles involve a Spanish style comb--it's fun to track these little passing fads.So what do you think of 1818's fashions?

7 comments:

Julia Coenobita said...

Wow, those fashion plates are soooo beautiful, I wish I had one of those outfits! <3 <3 <3

Vicky said...

I am wondering about the Bridal Dress. I always thought that Queen Victoria started the tradition of white wedding dresses. I had been under the impression that Regency weddings were less formal than we are used to. Do you have any more details about Regency wedding customs?

Regina Scott said...

Vicky,

While other colors besides white were used in the Regency, white was still used as well. The Victorians just popularized it. Check out this earlier post for some information on wedding customs. http://nineteenteen.blogspot.com/2008/06/dearly-beloved.html.

Marissa Doyle said...

Queen Victoria reportedly wore her white dress because she wished to use a certain kind of lace in her gown, and it looked best with white. Because she was such a media darling, engravings of her were widely disseminated, and white became somewhat popular for wedding gowns...but it didn't become a "rule": some women before her had worn white, and many women after her didn't. Unless a woman was very wealthy, she chose a wedding dress that could become her "Sunday best" dress in married life, and a white dress wasn't very practical...even wealthy women generally wore their wedding dresses to parties in the first year after their marriages. I would imagine that in the late 1790s through the first decade of the 19th century there probably were a lot of white wedding dresses because there were a lot of white dresses being worn in general. It really was a matter of personal choice. Princess Charlotte, by the way, wore a wedding dress of silver tissue and lame.

19th century English weddings were quieter affairs--usually only family members or very close friends were present for the ceremony, and a wedding "breakfast" might follow--no big receptions, which I think were more an American innovation. Wedding customs are a little past our focus on teen life, but Regina and I will discuss it.

aimeestates said...

Love the carriage dress, makes me thing of A Christmas Carol...

Thanks for the win! I'm so excited!

Tricia Tighe said...

That fearsome bonnet looks like it might throw off your balance!

Marissa Doyle said...

Doesn't it, Tricia? I just can't get over the idea of wearing a hat so large that you could only see out the front--no peripheral vision!