Regency Era Fashion Chit Chat - August 1818 La Belle Assemblee
General Observations on Fashion and dress
To catch the motley power, Fashion as she flies, we should follow her to Brighton, Cheltenham, Weymouth, and to those rural scenes where royalty and nobility retire during the sultry months of July and August, and where they generally prolong their stay during the rich autumnal season, till winter disrobes the trees of their verdure, and the chilling winds cause them to hasten to their warmer dwellings in the metropolis.
From each of the above mentioned places Mrs. Bell, who, from her genuine taste and unremitting attention to please the versatility of that of others, may be deemed one of our first arbitresses of the toilette, has received large orders from several of the nobility and gentry there stationed; a brief account of which we shall lay before our fair readers.
Let them observe that nothing is reckoned so elegant for out-door costume as fine muslin pelisses lined with coloured sarsnet; though for evening walks, or returns from evening visits, when the sea breeze imparts a freshness bordering on cold, a pelisse of lightly brocaded silk, with a broad blue satin pelerine cape, is much in favour.
Transparent bonnets are still worn in carriages, either of crape, net, or gauze; but are chiefly devoid of the ornaments of either feathers or flowers. For walking nothing is reckoned so truly elegant as large bonnets of fine Leghorn, trimmed at the edge with fine blond, and the crown encircled by a rich figured ribband, with bow and ends on one side. The marine bonnet, made of the new cotton manufacture in imitation of willow straw, must not be forgotten: it is elegantly striped with green, representing Chinese grass; and is crowned with a small bouquet of full blown white roses. For the public walks the marine bonnet is expected to be a general favourite; but still more so will be the Duchess of Kent's bonnet; it is formed of a beautiful fancy straw, interspresed with stripes of satin and open straw, with a bouquet of white and red double ranunculus: it is in high, though not general estimation, having been but just invented at the new and elegant Magazin de Modes, in St. James's-street.
And here a most superb bridal dress, for receiving congratulatory visits at home, has lately been finished. At the border are two flounces of muslin, richly embroidered in open work; between, above, and below each flounce is a letting in of fine lace: The sleeves, closer to the arm than usual, are ornamented to correspond with the border of the dress. With this is worn the Italian cornette of fine net, crowned at the summit with a full wreath of red and white roses entwined with myrtle.
The Bannian, or Indostan deshabille of fine cambric, is a favourite dejeune costume at the fashionable watering-places; and Oriental robes of plain and worked muslin are much in vogue for half dress. The Virginia dress for evening parties, is among the full dress novelties; it is of sprigged gossamer satin of etherial blue, and light as air; it is ornamented with flounces of broad white blond. The Pavilion concert dress is most elegt; it is of white spotted gauze, richly, though lightly, bordered with three distinct fstoon flounces of blond, each flounce headed by a narrow rouleau of peach-coloured satin.
Amongst the head-dresses the Madras turban still continues in favour; we shall ever regard this head-dress both as unbecoming and negligent. The Cheltenham morning cap is far more elegat; it is of fine net and blond, crowned with wild Cape flowers. The College cap of blue satin, with embossments of white gauze, is one of those whimsical head-dresses which a very pretty face only may be allowed to wear. The cornettes continue, as usual, to be worn at all times in the day, especially by matrons; for the breakfast table they are without flowers, for diner parties the flowers are profuse, and on evenings the mob part is jerked back, to take off their undress appearance, and some ladies add a small plume of white feathers as an ornament; we cannot forbear saying a very outre one. Many matronly ladies, however, in the country, wear at evening parties small equestrian hats of Chinese gauze or satin, with full plumes of feathers: the Caledonian cap, for sea side excursions, is universally worn.