Sunday, May 18, 2014

Journal Journey into the Year 1811:May Edition, with only some flowers and a lot of rain.

That old addage obviously needs to come up with the times.  Or, if nothing else, find one adapted for the south which is something like "April showers bring May TORNADO SIRENS, TORRENTIAL RAIN, AND DRUNK ASS WEATHER."


Anyhow, it has given me a lot of time to do some fun research, and work on this month's edition, which all things considered is rather light!  I think maybe because all of you people who have been reading (if anyone has…) are learning as I am, and terms are becoming more familiar! 

When you are through with Ackermann's be sure to mosey on over to Germany, France, and perhaps come back to England to see what other fashionable's like in the month of May.

On that note, lets go! 

(Editor's opinion: This first dres is UH-GA-LEE. Seriously, why. ) 

Plate 30 - A ball or full dress

A roman robe of pink crape, worn over white gossamer satin.  A long spanish slashed sleeve (1), with an antique cuff of fine net late; horizontal stripe front, with a quilling (2) of fine net round the bosom.  The slashes of the sleeve filled with folds of white satin, and their terminations finished with silver filigree, or mother of pearl buttons.  A cestus of white satin, with correspondent clasp and broach.  Hair in waved curls, confined round the head with a wreath of persian roses, separated in the center of the forehead.  Neck-chain and cross of peruvian gold ear-drops of the same.  An occasional scarf of paris net, starred with silver.  White satin slippers, ornamented with pink rosettes.  White gloves of french kid; and fan of spangled crape.

Plate 31 - Opera Dress

A white muslin robe, with long sleeves.  An algerine (3) tunic of white satin, trimmed round the bottom and bosom with net or silver fringe, simply confined in the center with a regency broach.  A turkish cloak (4), or short coat, with arm holes, composed of plain indian muslin, similar with the robe, and lined with cerulean blue sarsnet; trimmed round the back and down each side with broad lace, put on very full.  The cloak thrown open in front, so as to exhibit the tunic and under robe.  A helmet cap, composed of silver net and spangles, ornamented with a cluster of the labrador roses (5) in front.  A treble neck-chain and ear-rings of elastic indian gold (6).  Gloves and shoes of white kid.

Child's dress

A short frock and trowsers of plain indian muslin, trimmed with thread lace, or flounces of the same.  A short french tunic coat of white sarsnet or camrbic, with full arched collar, tied at the throat with a silk cord and tassels, and the bottom trimmed with lace, similar to that which ornaments the frock and trowsers.  White kid gloves and slippers, hair a tufted crop. (7)

1.  To those who read Pride and Prejudice, you will be amused to remember the line where Mrs. Bennet mentions how happy she is to hear the news about long sleeves, even for evening.  The exact quote escapes me, but PnP was published in 1811, so this if a fun nod.

2.  Quilling is defined as a type of ornamental craftwork involving the shaping of paper, fabric, or glass into delicate pleats or folds.  In this case I am supposing lace is used. 

3 and 4.  It seems that in the month of May we are back to the adoration of Middle Eastern styles after our tryst with Mexico. Fashions come and go so quickly! 


6.  In  some perusing of earlier years for a completely unrelated subject, I found a couple of difference references to "Elastic" to describe jewelry.  I am assuming it is because it is formed of such a specific material and style to be almost spring like.  I can't really picture it but I feel like I have seen something similar in modern day. 

7. I find it interesting that this is non gender specific! Both boys and girls up to a certain age wore clothes that were exactly the same, trousers and dresses.

Twentieth letter from a young lady in london to her sister in the country

…We are just relieved from a week of penance, occasioned by a visit from a sprig of rusticity, in the shape of a country miss, who arrived heavy laden with sentiment and sophistry.  She drawled out her die-away nonsense till she made our men sick; and moralized on rural pleasures, the simple elegance of the primrose, the retiring sweetness of the violet, the pensive remoteness of the valley lily, and the harmony and innocence of the children of the grove, till our only refuge, like that of Massena, was an abrupt retreat; in which, however, we desire no further to resemble this doughty general, our intention being to conquer, but not to destroy.  My dear sister, were I to comply with the sum total of your requests, I should fill a quire, instead of a sheet of paper, so much variety every where prevails.(1)  My time here is not at my own disposal, nor is my mind so unoccupied as to leave my heart at leisure to expose its absurdities.  In the country, on the contrary, your hearts seem to take the reins instead of your understandings; and your sentiment and sensations make fools of you all.  You may rail as you will against our London amusements, but I am sure there is more danger in the neighborhood of groves, grottos, and crustal streams.  

Thus much in reply to the contents of your last.  And now that I am entered on the dinner-hour, let me hasten to recommend to you (in lieu of those general remarks I am accustomed to afford) a publication at this time in much request, and which possesses much unique merit.  It is entitled The Mirror of the Graces, the English Ladie's Costume (2).  You will really be pleased with the book.  It contains dissertations on the different orders of female attire and personal recommendation; and exhibits a very strong specimen of that talent which can so dress matters of comparatively light import, as not only to render them instructive and amusing, but at the same time to make them the vehicles of morality and virtue.  This book teaches the art of combining a delicate taste with a correct judgement, without either aiding our vanities, or infringing on our duties.  You may find some fault with the incongruity of colouring exhibited in the otherwise fashionable specimens given in the engravings which accompany this work; but I really think it is its only fault, and certainly it is one which requires no very extraordinary effort of judgment to perceive and to alter: for no English woman would permit a primrose mantle and bonnet to be lined with pink, when violet, purple, and even celestial blue offer a contrast so evidently superior (3).  Read this work, Constance, with attention it is really excellent of its order.

After what I haver said on this subject, you will not expect, or find requisite, any lengthened description of general fashions, particularly as I send, for our friend Charlotte, a regular set of articles of the most novel introduction.  She must, you know, have fashion at any rate, or i should not approve of the glaring union of gold-coloured and crimson exhibited in the regency bonnet and wellington wrap (4), which is now considered the very pink of the mode.  This, however, is in some degree atoned for by the spirit of true loyalty which actuated the design.  You will, I am sure, turn your gently beaming eye from this too glaring combination to the extreme delicacy of the white crape tunic, bordered with violets in foil (5), and which you will see is attached to a white satin under-robe, and jewelry ornaments of diversified gems.  Coloured sarsnet spencers (6), and demi length pelisses are much in request; they are alternately ornamented with lace, feather trimming, crape borders formed in small leaves, or shaded chenille.  For the style of walking dress, ball costume, etc.  I refer you to the specimens which I propose shall accompany this; and in extreme haste i fly to my toilet begging you to believe me ever your faithful friend and sister.

p.s.  Before I purchase your suit of pearl, i wish you to see a few samples (by way of guide to your choice) of such as stand foremost in point of elegance of design and fashionable execution: therefore in addition to the engraving forwarded with my last packet, I here beg leave to mention a suit I have just seen, fresh from the hands of the same manufacturer, j.k. barlow.  They consist of an entire suit, most tastefully combining the vine-leaf and grape, united with a tendril chain.  I must leave to yourself, dear constance, the choice of so elegant and costly and ornament; yet, I cannot but add, that I have seen none which excel those introduced by this jeweler in elegance of design, nor any which equal them in easiness and cheapness.  Once, more dear sister, fare thee well.

1. I recently just had this conversation with a friend about how DIFFERENT everything was in this period, how much variety and variation there was.  It seems our fashionable female knows it as well!

2.  If you have not read this book, I highly suggest it.  You can read it for free on google books!  

3.  It is a great testament to this publication that the whip tongued authoress and authority on fashion   praises it so highly, aside from her differing tastes on the coloring of the garments described ; ).

4.  I am not sure what they mean by a wellington wrap, but I have heard such a description about other garments later.  Given her mention of "loyalty" I guess it has to do with our famous Wellington who makes his name well known through history in five years time from this publication. 

5.  I may be wrong here but I think "violets in foil" means appliquéd very fine metal flowers. How beautiful!

6.  I am making a personal note for myself everytime Sarsnet Spencers are mentioned. 

No. 1:  A beautiful pamorette, or rainbow imperial net (1), calculated for the evening robe, or dinner party; it is worn over white satin or sarsnet.  We have not seen any article of the order which exceeds this in attractive elegance.  It combines all the light gracefulness of the gauze with the durability of the sarsnet, and is every way worthy of that distinction which it has obtained among our females of rank and fashion.

No. 2: An elegant white figured twill sarsnet for full dress. There needs little comment on this delicate article; robes of which must be made plain, trimmed with lace, silver, or narrow artificial wreaths of flowers (2).  Some ladies will add to the robe a bib and apron of white crape (3), spangled or bound with silver, with tassels to correspond. Coloured or variegated ornaments appear particularly adapted to robed of this article.

No. 3:  A royal regency striped muslin, brought our by the house of Millard in Cheapside.  This article comprises at once utility, neatness, and fashion; is calculated for the summer pelisse, as well as for the superior order of dress (4).  Amidst the pleasing variety of superb indian shawls and beautiful imitations of the same (5), now on sale at this celebrated warehouse are now some grey and black shawls and scarfs, adapted for such of the nobilities and ladies who have occasion for mourning habits.  We understand a new style of shawl has recently been introduced by this establishment, which reflects great credit on our manufacturers. 

No. 4:  A purple sea-weed grounded cambric, calculated for the morning and domestic costume.  The delicacy of pattern and fastness of colour (6) which this article possesses, are a sufficient recommendation to such ladies as prefer coloured morning robes.  There are a few females to whom it will be unacceptable. 

1.  I just wanted to mark this by saying oooohh shiny. 

2. Hey.  For all you nay sayers.  This is not a new thing. 

3. Ok, this threw me for a second since I just spend some time hunting down the secret to the "apron front gowns" or " bib front". It also helped to solve the "stomacher" mystery! When they say that they mean the bodice portion of what we call an "apron" or "bib" front. At least, that is so far what I have established.  That might change.  Anyway, decorative aprons are a thing, and I believe they are referring to the apron having a bodice portion too.  You see one in 1814. 

4. Superior order of dress refers to evening up to full. 

5.  Oh this is so adorable.  They may try to talk up their products, but all fashionable females knew a knock off and imitation shawl when they saw one, and you were sure to be snubbed due to it.  But hey, this warehouse needs to make money. 

6. Apparently 200 years is too long for it to remain "color fast." Bless.  But this is another reason to READ THE PUBLICATION. colors fade and discolor over time. 

This is a very short month, so lucky you! Stay tuned for next month when we start getting summer fashions.  Though nothing like what we need to wear here in the states, I am sure!


  1. Oh yes, that stomacher conclusion is really convincing! Stomacher as a period term for bib or apron front, sounds so much more reasonable :)
    ...and I so feel an urge for a sea weed morning robe...that fabric is amazing!