Posts Tagged ‘Ackermann fashion plates’

I’ve placed these gorgeous Ackermann fashion plates here  to wish my readers who are mothers a Happy Mother’s day. Aren’t these images precious?

1812 morning dress or domestic dress.

Click on images to enlarge.

1826 evening gowns, March.

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Recently I commented on a morning gown whose influences were largely from British history. In this April 1812 Ackermann fashion plate, the pink ball gown is indicative of the impact of trade and foreign travel in eastern lands and the advances of the Industrial Revolution on fashion. A young lady attending the ball would have (in her mind) come as a strong exotic eastern woman, resplendent in her turban, peasant bodice, and other rich oriental details.

Click on this fashion plate to enlarge it.

Ball Dress: a round Circassian robe of pink carpe , or gossamer net, over a white satin slip, fringed full at the feet; a peasant’s bodice of pink satin or velvet, laced in front with silver, and decorated with the same ornament. Spanish slash sleeve, embellished with white crape foldings, and finished at its terminations with bands of silver. A Spartan or Calypso helmet cap of pink frosted crape, with silver bandeaus, and embellished with tassels, and rosets to correspond. A rich neck-chain and ear-rings of Oriental gold. Fan of carved ivory. Slippers of pink kid, with correspondent clasps; and gloves of white kid: an occasional square veil of Mechlin lace.”

Detail of the Spartan or Calypso helmet cap, mechlin lace, fan, peasant bodice, and Limerick gloves.

Eastern Turkish influence includes those of Circassian women, whose reputation dates back to the Ottoman Empire and the Sultan’s harem. Circassians became a common symbol of orientalism during the Romantic era. In Europe and America

 Circassians were regularly characterised as the ideal of feminine beauty in poetry, novels, and art. Cosmetic products were advertised, from the 18th century on, using the word “Circassian” in the title, or claiming that the product was based on substances used by the women of Circassia.- Wikipedia

The gossamer net represented the advances made in machine made lace during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. (Click here to read my article about net lace.)

Early 19th century dress made with embroidered black net.

 The white crape foldings in the Spanish slash sleeves remind me of the puffs in the hem of this early 19th century gown.

Limerick gloves were “a celebrated style of glove that became popular throughout England and Ireland during the late 18th, early 19th century. Commonly referred to as ‘chicken-skins’, the gloves were renowned for their exquisite texture. They were made from a thin strong leather derived from the skin of unborn calves and sold encased in a walnut shell.”

Limerick glove. Image @The Museum of Leathercraft.

Circassian women were regarded as strong, beautiful, and exotic, which is how the woman wearing the ball dress depicted in the Ackermann fashion plate must have felt.

Circassian woman. Image @Clipart, etc.

The circassian robe, or an outer garment used in ceremonial occasions, is not as evident in the fashion plate as in the dress below, where it flows over the gown’s train.

Eliza Farren in 'A Scene in the Fair Circassian' with Robert Bensley by James Sayers. Etching ca. 1781 from the National Portrait Gallery NPG D9544

Rich lace, tassels, and an ivory fan completed our fashionable lady’s the ensemble.

Decorative imported ivory fan. Image @Independence Seaport Museum.

Detail of the hem.

More about the ball gown’s fashion influences:

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Fashion is always more than it seems on the surface. Take this charming Regency morning dress from Ackermann’s Repository (April, 1812), for example. Its detailed description in the magazine demonstrates how many historic influences shaped this romantic costume. The lady who wore these garments as a total ensemble would have known about its medieval, Elizabethan and Jacobean associations.

Morning or Domestic Costume: A superfine Scotch or French cambric over a cambric slip, with full long sleeve, and ruff a la Mary Queen of Scots. A neck-chain and sight set in gold; bracelets and necklace of white or red cornelian. A Flora cap, composed of white satin and lace. A capuchin or French cloack of blossom satin, or Pomona green, trimmed with thread lace. Slippers of pale pink or green; and gloves of tan or Limerick kid.

Cambric material, also called batiste and made of bleached linen or cotton, was widely used in the 19th century for handkerchiefs, shirts, bed and table linens, and as fabric for lace. Scotch cambric was actually a fabric made in India. French cambrics were hard to come by after the British banned imports from France during the war.

Detail of cap, ruff, and necklace with quizzing glass, or 'sight'.

The Mary Queen of Scots ruff indicates the influence of the Elizabethan era in fashion and architecture. At this time, British fashion began to diverge from French fashion because of the Napoleonic wars, which effectively blocked normal communication and travel between the two countries. By 1811, fashion designers, who were influenced by the Romantic sensibilities of British poets and philosophers, looked to the Tudors and the Gothic eras for new fashion statements. Ruffles and slashed sleeves began to appear, and gowns began to veer from the elegant simplicity of Grecian designs to more embellished dresses.

Flora McDonald

I found almost no references to the flora cap, which hugs the skull. In this instance, a lace brim frames the face and hair. Historically, Flora McDonald was immortalized through her association with Bonnie Prince Charlie, and in the early 19th century,  Sir Walter Scott symbolized her as the embodiment of romanticized Scottish Jacobitism. One portrait of Flora shows her wearing a lace cap. Interestingly, today’s baseball and American hunting caps pop up when one Googles either Flora cap or Jacobean hats.

Cornelian, primarily found in India, was a popular semi-precious stone used in jewelry. The rust red is more prevalent over the white. Think of the colors of a cameo and you will have an idea of what bracelets and necklaces made of cornelian might look like. In this instance, the fashion plate depicts a white carnelian necklace.

Capuchin cloaks were loose hooded cloaks  whose design origins dated back to the medieval period. Capuchin monks, a 16th century off shoot of the Franciscan monks, wore distinctive pointed hooded cloaks, whose popularity remained strong through the 18th and 19th centuries.

I found this Victorian reference to Limerick kid gloves highly fascinating:

the best foreign glove is not better in any respect than the best Irish glove,—because the best London-made kid glove is rarely imported, or, if imported, cannot be sold as cheap as the best Dublin, Cork, or Limerick kid,—because the majority of imported gloves are made by frame, instead of by hand, and that the stitching by hand is much surer and firmer than sewing by machine; as, if one stitch give in a hand-made glove, that stitch alone goes, while if a stitch give in a machine-made glove, the whole finger is apt to go—and, lastly, because the article that is generally sold, is made of what, in the trade, is called “seconds,” the raw material being what is technically termed ” slink lamb,” and not kid; the difference of which may be better understood when I state that “seconds,” or “slink lamb,” can be bought by the manufacturer at from 1s. 3d. to 2s. per dozen, while kids range from 8s. 6d. to 14s. per dozen. What is usually called French kid, is, in reality, Italian lamb. So that my advice is—stick to the Irish kid, which will give good wear, and look charmingly on the hand.” – The industrial movement in Ireland, as illustrated by the National exhibition of 1852 (Google eBook), John Francis McGuire, 1853, p. 87

Detail of the Limerick kid gloves.

Although this lady is wearing a household garment meant to be seen only by family and close friends, and which she will keep on until she goes out to shop or visit friends, she is also wearing a cloak and gloves. One of the coldest vacations I ever spent was a week in April in London (the second coldest was a windy weekend in August in San Francisco). I visited a friend who lived in an ill-heated apartment, and I shivered for 7 days during one of the rainiest weeks this Dutch girl ever experienced. I imagine that the domestic outfit  portrayed in this fashion plate was well suited to staving off cold drafts and the shivers.

Several years ago I engaged in an online discussion about whether a lady wore gloves indoors. My “opponent” was adamant in her assertions that ladies did NOT wear gloves inside, saying that Regency portraits indicated that they never would. Never say never. I replied that this made no sense. Ladies tried to look their “Sunday” best for expensive portraits destined to be hung in long galleries, which meant showing off their most beautiful clothes and their milk white, unsullied hands. Besides, I found one or two paintings that portrayed a woman wearing gloves inside the house. I imagine that in some instances, a visitor might keep her gloves on if her visit was short and she was offered nothing to eat or drink.  (Think of Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s imperious visit to the Bennets to confront Elizabeth about her intentions with Mr. Darcy.) The gloves in this print might mean that the woman was sitting in a glassed-in conservatory or in the confines of her private garden.

A lady who lived in a freezing mausoleum of a house would be a fool not to keep her gloves on. This fashion plate shows such a sensible young woman.

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Copyright (c) Jane Austen’s World. A fine mist and cool air will  greet my dog and me on our morning walk. I intend to put on a thick short coat and scarf, and faux fur lined boots. How would my Regency counterpart have dressed in November, 1810, precisely 200 years ago?

More elegantly, I decided. While I putter on my computer in my jammies and robe, and sip coffee upon first rising, my Regency counterpart would have sipped hot chocolate from a delicate china cup and written letters, read from a book, or practiced on the pianoforte, as Jane Austen was wont to do in the early morning.

The maid would have started a fire in the morning room, but the house overall would have felt much cooler than it did even a month ago. A Rumford stove, which was becoming quite popular, would have retained  more heat, but as you can see, our Regency miss is swathed in a cap, long sleeved dress, and a high-necked chemisette. She wears gloves, stockings, and thin slippers. Layered as she is (for she probably wore a corseted petticoat underneath her ensemble and perhaps even a chemise), she would have felt comfortably warm. Had she still felt cold, she could opt to throw a thick shawl around her shoulders and a small throw over her lap.

Morning dress, or undress, were dresses worn by ladies who expected to be seen only by close members of the family or guests in the home. They were never meant to be seen by visitors. Undress outfits, especially in more modest households where women worked alongside their servants, preparing vegetables or overseeing household duties, gardening and the like, were covered by aprons and pinafores.

In this image from Sense and Sensibility 1996, Elinor and Mrs. Dashwood are shown wearing undress. As soon as Edward Ferrars nears the house, the women tidy themselves, taking off their aprons, and making sure they look neat and presentable. They would not have had time to change into nicer outfits, nor would they have likely had many choices of dress to choose from.

Some Regency ladies who stayed at home all day would remain in a state of undress until dinner, when they changed into a gown suitable for the dinner table. Others would change their outfit much sooner, when they were ready to leave the house or if they had arranged to receive visitors. After I finish writing this post, I shall put on my half-dress, replacing my morning robe with a walking outfit consisting of a hooded sweatshirt, long-sleeved t-shirt, jeans a short coat and a scarf. I’ll exchange these outdoor exercise clothes with a more formal office look for work, which means that I will have worn three outfits by nine a.m.

My Regency counterpart would also change her outfit. A lady of fashion would look vastly more elegant  in her walking outfit with its little fur tippet artfully arranged over a long-sleeved spencer jacket than me in my walking suit. If she was married or a spinster, she would place her  jaunty hat with its  soft capote crown over a cap, whose lace trim would peep out from beneath the hat’s brim. Sturdier leather slippers, leather gloves, a reticule and umbrella or parasol would complete the ensemble.

A middle class lady would look less modish than the idealized women depicted in Ackermann’s Repository, which was the Vogue magazine of its day. She would have fewer clothes to choose from, and most likely possessed only one walking outfit instead of a variety, and certainly not in the first stare of fashion.

Whatever her social background, our Regency lady was now ready to meet the world and visit friends, go shopping, or generally run errands outside of the house. The walking outfit in the Ackermann plate provided sufficient layers for a lady to stay warm during her walks and errands. Should the November day turn particularly windy and wet, she would most likely trade the tiny fur tippet for a more substantial shawl or cloak. The middle class Regency lady might trade her shawl for her only cloak, which she would keep for years until its usefulness was outworn.

More on the topic:

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