Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Journal Journey through the year 1811: June; A seriously delayed entry.

Its two moths behind, I know, I know. Summer time is very busy in the Robert's household, with sewing and events back to back its hard to find time to write!

In any case, here is June!

Plate 36: Promenade Costume.

A round robe of plain jaconot muslin, with a border of needle-work at the feet. A roman coat (1)  of violet shot sarsnet, with pointed cape, binding and tassels of jonquil (2) silk.  A parisian cap of sarsnet, same as the pelisse, ornamented with a broad braid of jonquil silk, and a fancy flower (3) placed towards the left side.  A veil of fine what lace, thrown negligently over the head-dress shading the throat (4), and falling on the shoulders.  Half-boots of violet kid or french kid.  Gloves of jonquil kid.

A round high walking dress of fine oblique corded muslin (5), with high arched collar, trimmed with a narrow full edging of muslin or plain net lace, and finished with the feet with narrow tucks.  A roman helmet (6) of sea green sarsnet, caught up in the center of the forehead.  A grecian drapery scarf of sea green sarsnet, parasol to correspond. Shoes of similar colored kid.  Blossom-colored reticule and primrose or pale tan gloves. (7)

(1)   It seems that roman I influences have become fashionable again; almost as if it is a fashionable standby if there is nothing else exciting and novel to call upon.

(2)   Jonquil is a shade of yellow

(3)   I have never seen this term “fancy flower” before and have yet to see it again. Any ideas from onlookers?

(4)   The term “negligently” in this makes me laugh. During this period women would often spend hours at their dressing table in a practice called “studies negligence”, the art form of making it look as though you are so fashionable you can throw anything on and not worry too much about how it looked, though there was a very fine line in it looking good, or shabby and TOO studied.

(5)   "Oblique" means generally not straight, not parallel or perpendicular. So the cords are at an angle. 

(6)   See also number one

Plate 37: Description of five head-dresses.

No. 1, on the left at top.  The beehive hat of lemon-colored chip, or pearl straw, with small angola feather waving in front.  This hat, it should be remembered, seems exclusively to belong to the very youthful female.

No. 2, on the right at top.  A promenade head-dress, consisting of a simple cottage bonnet of white satin, ornamented with a persian rose in front.  A long mantilla veil, of white lace, thrown entirely over the whole.  

No. 3, in the center.  An evening head-dress, composed of the antique or old English fly-cap, formed of crimson shot silk, finished at the edge with two rows of fine pearls or beads, and a star or small rosette in front.  None but the white robe can display this unique and elegant head-dress to advantage. 

No. 4, on the left at bottom.  The hamlet hat of straw or chip, tied under the chin with white ribbon, and ornamented with two curled ostrich feathers, waving towards one side.  This head dress belongs to the morning or walking costume.

No. 5, on the right at bottom.  A carriage head-dress. A full band of turban muslin, sitting close to the side of the face.  A flemish bonnet of white satin, edged with a raised chenille border and ornamented in front with small jonquil flower.  This head-dress is at once unique, fashionable, and simply elegant. 

It was really great to have this in my journal this month.  Hats in french magazines are very popularly made, but it is harder to find them in English publications. These are really a great selection too, really up my alley. I have also discovered that in reading these at least for 1811, carriage dress really hardly calls for a hat, which I suppose makes perfect sense - you are not promenading, and sometimes space is at a premium, so a big hat or hat at all is not necessary, but some sort of head covering it; a turban, a veil, a cap, whatever.  It is also interesting to see an age requirement on a garment, much like today, in mention to the "beehive" hat. I wonder how youthful they mean because I have one similar :p. The one thing I am not clear on is what is a "fly-cap?" If any of my readers might have an idea, do let me know! 

General observations

The fashionable world, at present, displays an appearance more consonant with our best feelings and more agreeable to the eye of taste, than it has latterly been accustomed to do.  From the close morning dress to the airy attire of the ball room everything is simple and interesting, and nothing can exceed the beauty of the mode of dressing the hair, or the propriety and prettiness of all the ornaments of the head.  This general eulogium however, requires qualification.  What is here said, related to externals only.  Externals! I think I hear my fair readers claim.  What airs is Mr. Arbiter Elegantiarum going to give himself now? In the name of every thing female and fashionable, what has he to do with anything but externals? Do not be alarmed, my gentle friends; I am not going to descant on the furniture of the brain, or the qualities of the mind.  No; mr. arbiter, little as you may think of him is too wise to attempt any reformation in this matter: I am merely going to say one or two words more on the hackneyed subject of the "long-stay", which I suppose must now have reached the climax of disgusting deformity.  I have witnessed the rise and progress of this monstrous machine with emotions of horror common to all who are interested about the beauty or health of natures fairest works; and though I have failed in the endeavor to convince my readers how ugly, how ungraceful, and unbecoming it is though I cannot persuade them, that it is not beautiful to be bound up like a barrel, or graceful to be rendered stiff and motionless, I think I shall be successful in convincing them of the procrustean and leveling power of this curiously wrought machine.  Yes, however alarming it may be, it is nevertheless true neither the long stay corset nor divorce, can any more become a distinction  of rank, nor a mark for the boundary of the empire of fashion.  The shopkeepers wife, the haberdashers apprentice, nay, even the common household drudge the servant of all work is now become as fashionably habited in regard to this article of dress, as the lady of first distinction, and is equally proud of her stiff back, and her inability to move.  Now is not this alarming? Surely the lady who first introduced this fashion must have consoled herself with the thought, that is would at least form a distinction in society, that is its ugliness and inconvenience were such as to render the general adoption of it impossible.  But this has proved to be a fallacious and deceptive dream; the melancholy facts, which I have recorded above are too well known to admit of dispute.  What is it to be done? A thought has just occurred to me.  Suppose my fashionable readers were to wear the corset over, instead of under, their other dress it might then be ornamented like the ancient stomacher, and the divorce would form a noble point for the display of jewels.  Really the more I think of this the more I am pleased with it; it would be attended with so many advantages not the least of which is, that the spectator would no longer be in any doubt about the odd shape produced by this machine;l he would see, at once the coat of mail and how ever it might shock his feelings, it could go no further, no room would be left for the indulgenced of imagination.  Let my fair readers look to this.

This was the best thing about this month! Another mention of stays! As a clothing historian and living historian the more we can uncover about unmentionables, the better! What I find so funny is our fashion adviser who is a man, just hates stays, and I can easily wonder why, I am sure like any man he was a great big fan of loose boobies everywhere. Easy access, etc. etc. Crass, but I am sure not too far from the truth.  I can also understand a bit of a distaste for the "divorce" device. It sounds rather uncomfortable, and a different piece than the busk itself! I would love to be able to find out more.  I was also giddy to see the mention of even servants wearing stays, which if he is being serious and this is a true statement, blows the assumption out of the water. To my mind it has always made sense, but there are, of course, nay sayers. I would love to discuss more on stays, if you have any ideas, please share them in the comments!

No. 1.  Am imperial striped gauze for evening or full dress; which becomingly ornamented with white or amber beads, thread lace, or narrow wreaths of flowers.

No. 2. Barrosa lace, for the same order of costume; admitting only trimming of lace, white beads, or silver; and worn over slips of white satin or sarsnet.

No. 3. An entirely novel printed muslin, entitled the regency plume from the house of william bowler and son, of king street, cheapside, by whom it is vended to all the fashionable houses in town and country.  The same pattern is to be had on azure and jonquil grounds.  The union of colours is quite unique and their effect particularly attractive and pleasing; at the same time is a reasonable price.

No. 4. A mourning printed cambric of an entire new pattern.  There needs no comment on the appropriation of this article which speaks decidedly for itself.

I have never heard of "Barrosa lace" have any of you? I have also recently come across a couple of originals with "white" beads on them, almost encrusting them, and its such a very modern look its surprisng. I also love how many printed fabrics we have seen so far in this journal, and the range of fabrics included. There is no reason, I believe, for there to be any mourning fabric included other than it just is! 

I hope you have enjoyed this month, and again I apologize profusely for how delayed it is.  I hope all the interesting tidbits have made up for it in spades : ). Please be sure to head over to France, London, and Germany for June, July, and soon August! 

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