Sunday, April 27, 2014

Journal Journey into the year 1811: April Showers bring May Flowers, or time to blog.

Good morning all! It is still morning for me right? Yes. Good. April is here, and though it is late in coming, here is your fourth edition to journal journey into the year 1811! April has some amazing treats in store, so I hope that you enjoy and read from beginning to end.  You shan't be disappointed, I promise! I will be doing some things a little differently, so hang on to your hats.  I suppose sometime I ought to post about something else, but I am a busy lady, and it is still a miracle I post this much! Ha.
But once you are through with Ackermann, perhaps you will find some interest in Germany, or perhaps France, or maybe even other English fashions!

I left the picture unreasonably large for you…think of it like incentive ;)

 Plate 25 - Walking dress or promenade costume. A cossack coat, or short pelisse, of violet coloured sarsnet, lined with white persian, and trimmed entirely around with an indian border of feathers. A woodland hat, composed of the same materials, with a small angola feather in front.

Underdress- a high round robe of jaconot muslin, ornamented at the feet, and on the bosom, with needlework or lace; a full frill of the latter round the throat. Half-boots of violet kid; and gloves a pale tan colour.

This one is relatively self explanatory, the only thing that is a little fuzzy is the "indian border of feathers." What remains in question is what do they mean by INDIAN border? Are the feathers from india? Or is the style Indian? My guess is the materials, it looks like maribou! 

 Plate 24 - A ball dress of amber-colored crape, worn over a white satin slip, embroidered entirely round and up the front with a border of blended lilies and persian robes in chenille; short sleeve; and long gloves of french kid.

Neck-chain and drop of indian gold; ear-rings to correspond. Hair in waved curls in front. White satin sandal-slippers, tied with green ribbon round the ankle. Fan of carved ivory.

Another pretty self explanatory garment, it is odd how short the descriptions are! What a disappointment. Remember the Sandal-Slippers, though, they come up again later.

Our fair readers are here presented with a delineation of a complete suite of pearls for full dress, being the most elegant ornament we have ever seen. It consists of a necklace, sprig, bracelets, tops and drops, and three broaches, two of which can be worn as a pair of clasps. The sprig is so contrived as to fix on a comb and the centers play on springs. The net work of the necklace which forms a collar and the delicacy of the pearls, which agree with all complexions, give it the happiest effect.

How fantastic is this insight into jewlery of the period! It even is so detailed as to show the way that the necklace and bracelets clasped.  If I had any skill in making jewlery, I would recreate this in a second. Interesting that the sprig is on springs, what would the purpose be? Perhaps to make it smaller or larger? I can imagine how magnificent this looks all in person in its described gems.  Pearls are always most becoming.

No. 1 and 2. A furniture print of unique elegance, from the extensive and select warehouse of mr. allen, no. 61, pall-mall. It is but justice to the taste and perseverance of mr. allen, to observe that no house in this extensive metropolis furnishes such choice and elegant articles in this line, nor on such moderate terms. Our correspondents either in town or country, may safely refer to his warehouse for whatever is elegant and fashionable in his line.

Again, it is important to read the descriptions attached to the plates, for the first one is another furniture print! How horrid would it be to sport a gown made out of sofa cushions, or bed curtains? Tricky, though, as it is very similar to a kind of  "shawl print", popular for the intermediate order of dress.

No. 3. A light and seasonable article from millard's, in the city; whose warehouse exhibits the most convincing specimens of fashion, taste, and invention. For the morning wrap, the peasant's jacket, and simple high gown, the present article is particularly adapted. At this house is exhibited the regency spotted muslin, on beautiful bottilla grounds, calculated for morning dresses; and which recommend themselves particularly, from this peculiar pliancy and gracefulness of the folds. A new style of doyle, with rich and elegant designs, adapted for dinner and supper parties, has been recently introduced by this house. A superior article of this description has long been wanting and we are convinced the public will take advantage of its appearance, from the comfortable association it presents to dinner and fashionable soupees.

First off, if you know me, you know that I completely lost my mind when I saw this.  MUSTARD. POLKA. DOTS. Truly, this brought me no small amount of joy. Pay attention also to the "regency spot" which must be the Regent's new favorite item, a charming polka dot. I also have not been able to find what on earth "Bottilla"  or "Doyle" is! I've looked in books and the googles, and no one will relinquish their secrets.  Any help on this would be much appreciated. 

no. 4 a delicate shawl print, calculated for the intermediate style of costume. the plain round robe, or simple grecian wrap, is the only form in which this article can be disposed to advantage. Lace or muslin collars, frills or trimming are alone admissible with dresses of this article. It is sold by Messrs. T and J. Smith, tavistock-street, covent-garden.

Another kind of shawl print, which is very delightful and garish. It is so busy, I find it surprisng that they are suggesting any kind of trim, but simple plain white might work well. 

Hang on tight, this is going to be a long one, but VERY interesting!

Portman Square
March 29. 1811

Here I am, my dearly beloved sister, once more arrived safe and sound - all admiration and all amazement at the elegance of our newly decorated mansion, which, during out absence, has undergone a complete metamorphosis, as far as fresh paint, fashionable furniture, and splendid embellishments, can accomplish.  I have this moment caught myself in a most superb roman mirror.  Heavens! How Gothic,(1) how grotesque is my appearance, compared to the elegantes who pass in charming rattling array around the square! I fly instantly to the chinese boudoir, shut myself close from all stylish enquirers - dispatch a message to my milliner (2), muse silently while he is gone, and wonder he is not back, before he can possibly be halfway there.  A delightful thundering rap rouses me from my reverie.  I listen! It is my Lord _____, the dashing widower of whip-club notoriety.  I hasten towards the drawing-room - again catch a glimpse of my figure as I pass, and again retreat in dismay.  I throw myself on a lovely grecian couch, composed of pink satin, and wonder how a few weeks vegetation in the country can so completely have altered my tout-ensemble.  Again I listen! I hear my Lord's voice in stylish debate - how delightfully slang his accent! How tantalizing that I cannot show myself! I must see him at all events.  I start from my silky station, and kick down a beautiful exotic in my nervous agitation.  Never mind! I hate flowers - they only serve to remind one of the stupid country.  A fashionable bang of the house door. Vexation! My Lord just gone!

A mean suspicious plebeian tap at the door of the boudoir.  Oh! it is the milliner with splendid budget of auxiliaries, arrived very a propos to give turn to my thoughts (3).  I hasted to try their effects.  Dear Constance! How exquisitely becoming! How uniquely elegant! I am restored to myself, and am now finish my letter in a beautiful swiss jacket (4) and petticoat, formed of blush colored muslin (5), with the regency spot. (6) It is laced in front of the bosom with sarsnet ribbon of the same color, and trimmed round the bottom, bosom, and straps with indian silk binding (7). The long sleeve is very full, with a deep antique lace cuff.  I have half-boots of blossom colored kid (8), and a simple parisian mob of fine lace, extended over my hair, and confined under the chin; the whole exhibiting the most becoming morning or carriage costume I have ever seen for a length of time.  I have chosen for you a cossack coat, or short pelisse, (9) of bright primrose sarsnet, (10) which is trimmed with an indian border, composed of shaded curled feathers, (11) and as a suitable appendage, ordered the mexican casque (12), or indian helmet-cap (13), decorated with the same most unique and fashionable ornaments.  Spencers of sarsnet (14) are much worn, trimmed also with feathered borders, collars and cuffs of the same.  They are likewise considered select and elegant when formed without collars, with falls of lace round the throat, or high fluted ruffs, and borders of lace laid flat on the edges.  The cossack coat takes place of the long pelisse, which although comfortable, compact, and elegant, does not claim any attention on the score of fashionable distinction.  the only ones worthy of notice, are those formed with military frog fronts, confined down the front of the figure with the same ornaments; or in the loose robe style, with a trimming of broad lace on one side.  Lace is more introduced than ever in every order of costume.  Dress robes of satin or sarsnet are seldom without this elegant appendage.  Coloured crapes, lenoes, gauzes, and nets, with worked borders in gold, silver, or coloured chenille, and worn over white satin slips, are amidst the most attractive and select articles for full dress.  White robes are not very general, except for the morning or domestic habits (15). Short sleeves and demi trained are very general in the evening robed; except in the ball room - where they are invariably short, exhibiting much on the ancle and foot, which are decorated with the grecian laced sandal (16), the color corresponding or agreeably contrasted, with the border or colour of the dress.  No caps are seen in full dress on young women, but the hair in full curls, or otherwise fancifully disposed in the grecian and eastern style, and ornamented with gems or flowers.  To the morning dress, however (and, indeed, with the intermediate order of costume), they must ever be considered a becoming and appropriate appendage.(17)  The old English mob, the indian feather cap, french foundling, and grecian nightcap, are the only wearable articles admitted by us fashionable females.  There is so great a variety in bonnets, that preserve but the style, and you cannot be out of fashion.  The persian helmet and mexican turban (18) are the only articles of novelty in this line.  As I seldom am abroad but in the carriage, I should pay bit little attention to this article but on your account, my sage sister.  I simply throw over my hair a morning mob, a spanish mantilla veil, which is an elegant shade, and becoming softener of the countenance.  For your sake, however, my eyes wander to the fair and modest pedestrian; and, in consequence, I have ordered you a small Gipsey chip, turned up behind, and tied under the chin, an angola feather in front.  This you will preserve for your morning calls of scandal or converse, and for your own park you may still wear your small cottage with a large square veil thrown entirely over it. These simple bonnets are considered now more genteel with a flower or feather.  The grecian wrap, with falling collar, trimmed entirely round with a narrow flounce, or frills of muslin; and the peasant's gown and swiss jacket, already treated of, are the most distinguished articles for morning wear.  Boots and shows admit of no remarks, as they exhibit no novelty.  The same may nearly be observed of jewelry, except that ornaments of cut steel and mother of pearls, delicately carved and set in gold, are at once neat, fashionable, and select. Adieu! My sister and friend! My next commune on this head will bear a more decided character.  Till then, and for ever, believe me your affectionate,

(1) By her description it seems that the Gothic is no longer as universally loved as the previous month. 

(2) Milliner, in this instance, is being described as more than just a hat maker.  In this period a milliner covered more of the clothing of a person than just their head.

(3) Said milliner has brought as it says "auxiliaries" which in this instance can mean one of two things. Either the items brought were a collection of back up garments made using our fair authoresses measurements, or garments brought to help our poor fair authoress in her sartorial snafu. Either way, it means that this particular milliner has brought with them a ready-made ensemble with trimmings completed. 

Our lady here in the blue is wearing what is described as a "Flemish" jacket, but in the description given by Belinda, we can infer it was very much the same garment, though with wider sleeves. 

(5) "Blush" is generally used to describe a soft pale pink with a nude or tannish hue.

(6) Again we refer to the regency spot, as is described in the "Allegorical Woodcuts" above with our swatches.  Imagine the mustard in a pale pinkish.

(7)  Very likely called such because the silk is coming from India. 

(8) "Blossom" colored is also a pink, but darker and more saturated than blush.

(9) For an image of said garment, look to the first fashion plate.

(10) Primrose in this instance is not pink like we would think of today but a yellow color, generally pale and light. 

(11) A more detailed description of the trimming also seen in the first fashion plate.

(12) I spent hours digging for Mexican military uniforms to no avail, what fuzzy images I could find of battles from the war were sub par, but seemed to resemble a shako.  A "casque" as far as I know is a military inspired hat.*

(13) Similar to above, though I can find nothing, really.

(14) I made note of this for mostly my own satisfaction, considering the quantity of crossbar sarsnet in a lovely cinnamon color that I intended for spencers. 

(15) The prevailing "re enactorism" myth that everyone wore white all through this period can now hopefully be put to bed.  Early on, yes, it can be very well proven to be the case, but when we reach more into the tens and teens it is very evident that there were so many other choices, and they were worn so much more frequently than the ubiquitous white gown. 

(16) Be sure to look back to the second fashion plate of a visual of this.  American Duchess's Highbury shoe is exactly what is being described. 

(17) Thankfully I am still considered a young woman, though I am married, and do not have to wear a cap, though as it says for morning and sometimes under a bonnet is not a bad idea.  Caps were good for hiding a hair still set in curlers for the evening.

(18) A mexican turban would likely look something very similar to this: *

Both men shown with the head wrapping are Jose Maria Morelos, a prominent figure in the first Mexican war of independance.

* Suddenly Mexican fashions became popular because at the beginning of 1811 the FIRST Mexican war for independance from Spain was underway.  England had an interest in this due to their dislike of Spain and Spain's allegiance to France during the Napoleonic wars (off and on.)  Special thanks to Michael Ramsey for his nudging in the right direction whilst insulting me and threatening to draw a moustache on my face with a sharpie because I threw it at him. 

WHEW!! What a month of fascinating information!! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, I have learned so much in this edition, but what I also learned a thousand more questions came up, leading me to dig and do even more hunting about little facts.  Stay tuned for next month, and maybe eventually a post about something else! Don't hold your breath, though :).