Regency Era Fashion Chit Chat - July 1812 La Belle Assemblee
General Observations on Fashion and Dress
Votaries and observers of fashion, but not her slaves, we follow her through her versatile paths, catch her varied attractions, and present her changes to our readers as they pass before us in gay succession.
Now the pelisse reposes safely in the cedar press, and the velvet and fur are embued with spicy odours, the preservatives of Turkey leather, camphire, and cedar shavings, which defend their warm and rich texture from the destructive moth, till winter shall again reassume her frozen empire.
To these comfortable shields to the female form, have succeeded the spenser, the mantilla, and the scarf shawl; the former of these articles is most in favour for walking, with a bonnet of the same: these bonnets are now bent over the forehead, and the flower is transferred from beneath to the front, or round the crown of the bonnet; but the most favourite ornament is a long white ostrich feather.
The most prevailing colour for spensers is pink shot with blue, and trimmed round the waist with a white gossamer kind of fringe. Mantillas made of coloured silk, trimmed with black lace, are much in requisition; the most elegant of these articles forms a short cloak, sitting close to the shape, by the confinement of a ribband, and is called the Mantilla Infantado; the hat generally worn with this is of simple white satin, en toque, covered with a nun's veil. The Installaion head-dress is also sometimes worn under a long veil, consisting of the hair eleantly dressed, and when the veil is thrown on one side, on the other is discovered a bandeau or clusters of jewels, or short strings of pearls falling over the temples. The head is more dressed for walking than for some months past; it is true the long veil and parasol conceal it, and for this last essential summer article, those in the Chinese form, of green, wit rich brocaded edges in white are most admired.
The gowns are made much the same as last month, consisting chiefly of French cambrics or India muslins for half-dress; and coloured mulins, crapes, Opera nets, gossamer satins, and French sarsnets, for evening parties; white is, however, very general for both domestic and out-door costume. At all dinner and dress parties, a shawl kind of drapery is at present indispensible; consisting of slight shawls of black or white lace; some fancifully worked in colours, others of fine patent or French net, falling carelessly from the shoulders, and many wear a small white lace mantle, and fasten it on each shoulder with a pearl brooch, and this kind of drapery hanging from the back of the shoulders is of peculiar advantage to a short figure, and looks graceful on any one. The trimmings of gowns are chiefly composed of light gossamer fringe, or chain gymp of various colours intermingled, something in the stle of the old French trimming; for very full dress they are of silver.
The dressing and disposing the hair yet maintains its favour and preference in the style adopted by King Charles's beauties, and seems peculiarly suited to the English countenance. Flowers in half-dress, and herons and ostrich feathers in full dress, are now universally adopted. Shading off a colour seems also very prevalent; and to those eyes which are accustomed to paint or embroider, it is very gratifying, and certainly very becoming when on a head dress; for instance, a lady wears on her head a net of bright grass-green, with light aqua marina, and next her face confines the bright coloured net by a bandeau of dark emeralds, or a Ceylon ruby-coloured net, spotted with pink, and confined by a bandeau of the very best dark Oriental rubies; and to ladies who have not very fine hair, these nets with beandeaux form both a simple and elegant head-dress.
In jewellery, pearls, amethysts, sapphires, aqua marina, and agate, have taken place of gems of more ardent and refulgent appearance; large oval pieces of fine Macoa, or Egyptian pebbles, set at short distances, and relieved by spaces of gold chain, form a costly and elegant article for the neck. Eye-glasses also, set round with pearl, are a very fashionable ornament.
The village basket has now taken place of the ridicule, which, with the cottagebonnet, placed very backward, with flowers underneath, on each side the forehead, give to many of our ladies of very high rank, the appearance of blooming and beautiful cottgers.
Stays are now very much thrown aside; and the exquisite contour of a fine Grecian form is now no longer, by being steel-clad, disguised in such impenetrable and hideous armour: a young lady of the most exalted rank, it is said, first set this laudable example, and appears always the original of that excellent likeness with which the Royal Academy is this year honoured. After this intelligence it is needless to acquaint our fair readers that the waists are considerably shorter than they were some months ago.
For walking, half-boots of mankeen, pale blue jean or grey kid, fringed round the top, and laced behind, are much in favour, and for familiar visits, the Grecian sandal of black or very dark silk or satin, laced and bound with a very opposite light colour, has lately been much adopted, while, for full dress, the elegant Italian slipper, either of white satin, fringed with gold or silver; pale blue satin without fringe, and lilac, with white bugle roses, seems to retain an unrivalled pre-eminence.
The favourite colours are blue, lilac, jonquil, Pomona, and pale willow green.