Regency Era Fashion Chit Chat - August 1818 La Belle Assemblee
Cabinet of Taste; or Monthly Compendium of Foreign Costume. By a Parisian Correspondent.
Costume of Paris
I am happy to hear you intend again to visit Paris; you will then see how diligently I have performed the duty you required of me, and how indefatigable, I may say, I have been, without being accused of egotism, in my researches after the versatile Goddess. I must maintain, in spite of the well known genius and inventive powers of your country, that is she does sometimes seem behind hand in variety in France, yet that she is so sure a guide to Frenchwomen in the placing a feather or a flower, in the setting of a gown or the fixing a head-dress, that you must confess the attention to this minutiae evidently shows that the chief seat of Fashion's empire is Paris.
Now there is little variety this month in our out-door costume; for the oly shield that is thrown over the dresses of our Parisian belles are scarf shawls of Oriental aric, in morning walks, notwithstanding the warmth of the weather; and for evening, or public promenades, pelerines and handkerchiefs of black lace.
When I take you among the hats, however, I defy any metropolis to show so great a variety. Several of these head coverings are ornamented with gauze ribbons, which are of so light a texture that they have obtained the name of marabout ribbons; they are particularly made use of in ornamenting the edges, at which are two rows wuilled of this material. The trimming round the crowns of some hats consists of large folds of gauze, which are placed in a serpentine manner, and between each wave are large full blown roses, half concealed by the gauze; wild poppies are still a favourite ornament on hats. A few Spartan bonnets have made their appearance; they are of a checquered material. Two-thirds of the carriage hats are of white crape or gauze; on straw hats the piony is a favourite flower, though a group of wild single roses is preferred by some ladies; but a bunch of various flowers, consisting of roses, mignionette, jasmine, &c. is most in favour, and a quantity of wheat ears and wild poppies form a very general ornament. The edges of straw hats are unornamented, but it is not unusual to see them adorned with a plume of marabout feathers. The brims of bonnets are bent down a little in front, and are ornamented with a bunch of wild poppies and ears of ripe corn. The gauze hats are trimmed with checquered gauze buillone, in the buffont style, either round the crown or at the edge; but sometimes the edge is simply trimmed with a bias fold of gauze, plaited in large plaits, at a great distance from each other; a large bouquet of geranium is placed on one side of these hats, and many ladies have a quilling of red gauze at the edge, to suit the blossom of the geranium. Pinks are a more favourite ornament on hats than roses; they are generally five in a bunch. The hats and bonnets are getting smaller very fast: bonnets of plaid gauze have lately made their appearance in the carriages of some of our elegantes; they are either of brown, green, and blue, or the real tartan; they are bent down, and extended wide on each side of the face.
Embroidery is but little worn at the borders of gowns; but puckered flounces, and flounces bouillones, are very general. Printed calico gowns are universally worn in undress, with flounces of the same material; and the short sleeves, which you may think outre in undress, come nearly to the elbow; the arm, however, is always covered with a loose glove: short sleeves are very general here, and the dresses, highly appropriate to summer, are made partially low, and a light fichu is worn underneath; though very many ladies yet continue to wear a pelerine of the same material as the dress. A cambric dress has just been finished for the Duchess of Angouleme; it has one broad flounce of muslin, headed with rich fringe-work, and edged with lace; above this flounce are rows of several tucks.
The sempstress cornette is much worn as a breakfasting costume: it is of muslin, beautifully embroidered, and made like a toque, in front, a-la-diademe: the crown is divided into three quarters, with lace let in between. Dress hats and toques cover the tresses of our married ladies; the younger females go without caps this warm weather, and the hair is brought very forward, and arranged in full curls.