Regency Era Fashion Chit Chat - February 1812 La Belle Assemblee
General Observations on Fashion and Dress
Hail Goddess of versatile attractions, chaneful idol of the rich, the beautiful, and the young! Thy full influence now is felt in this our gay metropolis, and myriads follow thy splendid car, attached in willing bondage by thy silken bands. -- After this slight invocation to the Power which peculiarly presides over this part of our work, we proceed to inform our fair readers the prevailing modes in the different periods of Fashion's daily peregrinations.
There has been scarce any variation in the mode of the pelisses since our last Number; except that those of cloth are now trimmed in a most rich and novel manner. Over the bordering of velvet, either the same colour as the cloth or of a conspicuous contrast, is laid a row of braided ribband; and this ornament, though it would appear heavy on pelisses formed of a lighter texture, gives to the Merino cloth great richness and elegance. The mantles have, as usual, assumed a shorted form on the approach of February, particularly for the carriage costume. Fur caps, chiefly in the Persian and Hulan form, are yet very general; and the white quilted satin bonnet of the small cottage form, is worn by those females who are emulous of retiring from the public gaze; the most favoured ornament of these bonnets during the recess was a bunch of Christmas berries on the variegated holly, and this appropriate article is not yet out of favour. Sarsnet or velvet hats of Nakara, with ostrich feathers of the same colour, diadem hats of black velvet, ornamented with rich bugle trimming and black or white ostrich feathers, are much worn in carriage dresses for Hyde-Park, or sometimes at select dinner-parties.
The many splendid regales given at this season of the year, evince the unwearied exertions of taste and fashion; the snowy robe of fine muslin or leno now being laid aside, except by the most juvenile belles, the eye becomes dazzled by the various hues of those bright and ardent colours which are generally selected by the hand of fancy as most agreeable in their effect by candle-light; the twilled sarsnet of hermit-brown, trimmed with fine French lace, the Merino crape of bright geranium, the maiden rose, trimmed with white Brandenburg, the black velvet with white beads, and the golden-hued amber ornamented with pearls, show the taste of their different wearers, and form a most brilliant coup- d'daeil at a winter party; with most of these dresses aprons are worn, either the same as the dress, or of fine black or white lace, chiefly the latter. The gowns continue to be made very plain, with slip backs, or if a frock-back, a small fullness is observed; the sleeves are not worn quite so short as they were last month.
For gala dresses and the ball-room, the habiliments of the fair are yet more diversified; white and gold is still very prevalent, and lace gowns, both black and white, over various coloured satins; white satin, ornamented with a rich trimming of coqlelicot, with cornelian ornaments, for coral is now only worn in a morning, or to receive a small dinner party: pale pink gossamer satin, with pearl ornaments; and white crape and leno frocks for the younger part of the assembly, form the most prominent features in the annals of full dress. An elegant article, called the Peruvian robe, is also much admired; it consists of an under dress of satin, with an open crape robe of the same colour, confined at the bottom of the waist by a rich cordon and independent tassels.
For full dress, the neck-handkerchief is again thrown aside, and the bosom has no covering but the falling jewels of a solitaire and a narrow tucker: for half dress, small tippets of the Angouleme kind are yet worn; we think them applicable to the fullest dress; they might be made very costly, and their intrinsic worth is their modesty, emblematic of the illustrious and unfortunate sufferer from whence they took ther name: Fashion is never so attractive as when Delicacy assists at her toilet.
The hair is dressed in full curls on one side, and lighter and more simple on the other, while it is gracefully parted on the forehead, but the antique Roman head is again much worn in full dress. Flowers of a dark and rich colour are often simply placed on one side the hair for young people, while, for the Opera costume, bandeaus of diamonds, variegated demi turbans, with a sprif of pearl or other jewels; diadem-hats, enriched with brilliants, with white satin caps of various shapes, are worn by the more mature. Gold and silver net, with a few luxuriant ringlets suffered to escape from beneath, with two hanging on the left side of the throat, in the manner of King Charles's beauties, form a very elegant head-dress, and render a pretty face tres touchant, when it is gracefully arranged; but requires great taste in the wearer.
In jewellery we have remarked little new, except opals; they are suited to very few complexions, and are, at best, rather a heavy looking article.
Circular fans are now quite exploded from the fair hands of our elegantes; small ones of the customary form, of fine ivory, elegantly painted in the middle with figures or ingenious devices, and the agraffe or rivet made of one single diamond, are now the most approved in the requisite finish to full dress.
Italian slippers of amber satin, sea-green, pearl colour, and white kid, are chiefly worn; while, for the morning, half and quarter boots of various colours, Morocco or kid, and the half-boots lined with fur, are universally adopted.
The prevailing colours are amber, ruby, geranium, amaranth, sea-green, pink, and hermit-brown.
The curtains of a room are generally of a very rich silk, in full and numerous folds, or plaits; and being double, so that both sides should be alike, they take a prodigious quantity for a large apartment, where there are several windows: the cornices are according to the Greek or Roman style, with suitable ornaments, a rich fringed drapery of the most elegant kind, falls over the top of these expensive curtains, the screws are of the medallion kind, representing subjects from the ancients. The presses and commodes in a lady's wardrobe, should now be of cassia, lined with cedar, while the mirror of Psyche, which shows the form at full length, is now ornamented with the most fantastic and various devices, and is an indispensible article in the dressing-room of the fair votary of fashion.