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Cotton Bust Bodice | V&A | 1800-1830
Walking dress, 1817-20 UK, the Victoria & Albert Museum
Echoes of military uniform give this walking dress a masculine flourish. The curving satin bands applied to the front of the spencer are reminiscent of the parallel lines of braiding which extended across the breast of many uniforms. Passementerie in the form of crescent-shaped moulds, looped cord and balls covered in floss silk replace the gilt or silver buttons on some regimental coats. The tassels on the collar ends and cuff bands evoke the tassels adorning boots, hats, sashes and cap lines of military accessories. In place of epaulettes, puffed oversleeves composed of linked bows emphasize the shoulder line.
The infusion of military styles into fashionable dress in Britain was largely due to the influence of the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815). Among other factors, contact with foreign troops had a strong impact on civilian as well as regimental dress, and military ornament was translated into stylish trimmings on women’s hats, bodices, spencers and pelisses. The uniforms worn during this period were some of the most elaborate in the history of military dress, and their bright colours, frogging, braid and tassels fuelled the imagination of fashion for years to come.
Although this walking outfit is not based on any particular uniform, some garments closely followed certain styles. The uniform of the hussars, who were light cavalry, was particularly flamboyant as it was derived from Hungarian national dress. In her memoirs, Elizabeth Grant describes the admiration she received when she ‘walked out like a hussar in a dark cloth pelisse trimmed with fur and braided like the coat of a staff-officer, boots to match, and a fur cap set on one side, and kept on the head by means of a cord with long tassels’.
I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while - this term paper is trying to take me down! I’ll return as soon as it’s finished, though. God willing!
Silk Pelisse, Museum of London, c. 1823
A pelisse or pelisse-coat, a kind of women’s outer garment which could be made in everything from the lightest silk to heavy fur. It was worn over a gown but could look like a gown itself, especially when floor length like this garment. The pelisse was made for a trousseau in 1823 for the wedding of the grandmother of the donor.
The intricate decoration is made from rouleaux applied in floral shapes, and trimmed with wire wrapped in silk thread which stands out from the garment in loops at the ends. By the 1820s the high ‘Empire’ waistline is starting to drop towards the natural waist again. The ‘Vandyke’ style of the pointed shoulder pieces are one of the historical clothing references fashionable at the time.
Evening Dress, V&A, c. 1821-23
Check out the low, sexy back! I can’t wait to make one like this.
Cast iron hair comb (German), V&A, c. 1820
From the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Russian court gown, 1820s
One of the things that fascinates me most about Russian court gowns is that they still retain elements of the current fashions, like the waistline of the late 1820s here, while having all the requirements of court fashion.