WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Rigging

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Rigging

Regency era ladies must have sighed with relief when fashions evolved from the large skirts, thick panniers, and elaborate wigs of the late 18th century to the simpler, empire-waisted, silhouette dresses of the 19th century. Dressing would be so much simpler.

Or would it?

Let’s make a stop in a Regency lady’s dressing room.

Rigging

Clothing. Rum Rigging:  fine clothes.

Underthings

The Shift ~ Also known as a chemise, this thin, white linen or cotton precursor to the modern-day slip was worn right next to the skin, as it was much easier to clean than the next article of clothing, the stays (it was also kinder and more comfortable to the skin). It had a square neckline and could be short-sleeved or sleeveless. The shift was also long, falling to just above the knee or even the ankle.

Chemise/Shift, linen, 1810s. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The Stays ~ Also known as a corset (though not the larger, full torso-covering and whalebone-laden corsets of the Victorian era), stays were worn as a support for the bust and to aid proper posture. They looked much more like a modern brassiere or bustier than the fuller-length Georgian or Victorian corsets. Stays were made of a medium weight, tightly-woven linen or cotton and, depending on the bust size of the lady, might have cording to provide extra support. There were three types of stays: short (covering just the bust), transitional (covering the bust with a bit of material underneath for added support), and full with a busk (the precursor to the full, Victorian corset). Stays were worn over the shift/chemise.

Transitional stays, circa 1800, Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Petticoat ~ This garment was worn just underneath the gown, over the stays and shift. A petticoat could be functional, providing an extra layer of warmth or modesty, or merely decorative. The ornamental petticoats were embellished with lace or embroidery, and were meant to be seen when worn under sheer (even dampened) or robe-style gowns, or peeking under the hems of shorter overdresses. Petticoats could be made of muslin, flannel, silk, or cotton, and only one was worn at a time (unlike the layers of the Georgians or coming Victorians).

Decorative petticoat with shoulder straps, reproduction, Oregon Regency Society.

The Stockings ~ Stockings were made of silk, cotton, or flannel, in descending order of desirability of material. They came in a variety of colors, but during the Regency most were white, ivory, or pale pink. Garters were worn above the knee and held in place by ribbons or garters. Lace and embroidery could be added for extra decoration.

 

Pair of knitted silk stockings, 1800-1829, England, Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Chemisette ~ This was an optional piece that was caught in between underthings and things to be seen. It was a thin half-shirt, similar to the modern-day shrug, for lack of a better descriptor. It covered the neck, decollétage, and shoulders. As Kristen Koster put it, “basically a white lawn dickey with a high collar.”

Chemisette, circa 1840s , British, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Drawers ~ Did they or didn’t they? Princess Charlotte wore an ankle-length pair in 1811, allowing them to peek from under her dress, causing Lady de Clifford to complain and the public in general to think her fast. The consensus seems to fall that drawers were around, but ladies of good breeding did not wear them.

Daywear

The Morning Dress ~ Also known as the Domestic Dress, this informal gown could be worn anytime during the day while at home doing domestic tasks, such as addressing correspondence or visiting the nursery. They were generally high-necked and long-sleeved, and made from sprigged or plain muslin, cotton, or wool. The style was often a “round gown,” meaning the bodice and skirt were made from one piece of material.

Morning or Domestic Dresses from Mirror of the Graces, 1813.

The Walking Dress ~ When a lady left her home during the day, she went about in a Walking Dress. Depending on the season, sleeves could be long or short, but the bodice was generally higher than those worn in the evening. The hem was often higher to aid in cleanliness while out on the streets and pathways. These dresses were often paired with coordinating outerwear (such as spencers or pelisses below).

Walking Dress, Costume Parisien, 1814, Plate no. 149.

The Promenade Dress ~ Not your average Walking Dress, but one meant to be seen in gadding about the Park. The difference between this and a Walking Dress was the richness of the fabric, and the hemlines were lower.

Promenade Dresses from Mirror of the Graces, 1811.

The Riding Habit ~ Meant for riding (go figure!), these garments were constructed of a sturdy fabric like wool, that could take the punishment of mounting, riding, and dismounting horses. They were cut to resemble an overcoat, sometimes with a military flair, with embellishments kept to a minimum. Skirts were long and full, and cut longer on one side to accommodate side saddle riding.

Riding Habit, Lady’s Magazine, June 1817.

The Evening Gown ~ Now we’re getting into the fancy, possibly low-cut, and definitely substantially trimmed dress for activities after dark. Fabrics of choice were muslin, silk, gauze, and crepe…but pretty much anything went for these garments. Sleeves could be long or short, and a few featured merely wide straps that sat on the curve of the shoulder. The feature that I adore – the short train – began to lose its popularity after 1812.

Evening Gown, May 1809, Ackermann’s Repository.

The Ball Gown ~ Exquisitely trimmed frocks with rich fabric and elaborate construction were the quintessential hallmarks of the Ball Gown. These dresses usually consisted of one under layer (of satin, crepe, velvet, or the like) topped by an over-dress (of gauze, sarsnet, or gossamer muslin). Every hem and fastening was decorated with all manner of lace, artificial flowers, feathers, beads, jewels, flounces, scallops, embroidery, and other fine adornments. Many believe unmarried ladies were restricted to white and pastel colors, although no historical proof has surfaced to corroborate this. Popular colors of the time were indeed pastels (rose, lavender, ivory, and primrose yellow), as well as scarlet, slate, apple-hued Pomona green, bright canary yellow, and puce.

Regency Era Ball Gowns from author Sharon Lathan’s image gallery for her novel, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy.

Outerwear

The Pelisse ~ This overcoat was fitted but not tight, and was worn over a lady’s dress. It could be full- or knee-length, with fastenings from neck to ankle in the front. Pelisses were made from heavier fabrics such as wool, velvet, brocade, or kerseymere. They were also ornately trimmed with fur, swansdown, cordings, or other decoration. Similar to a pelisse is the Redingote, an English corruption of the French “riding coat.” These garments were long, fitted coats that belted at the waist but fell open down the legs to reveal the gown underneath.

Pelisse coats, circa 1812, Ackermann’s Repository.

Redingote de Levantine, Costume Parisien, 1811.

The Spencer ~ This garment was similar to a jacket but only covered the bodice and sleeves, accentuating the era’s empire waist gowns. Spencers were made from wool, silk, or satin, and were often quilted. Similar to the pelisse, they were heavily decorated, usually with embroidery, ornate stitching, or cording, and often cut to resemble a gentleman’s riding coat, without the tails.

Pink wool spencer, Costume Parisiene, Plate no. 125, 29 May 1799, Google Arts and Culture.

The Mantle ~ These garments could also be called cloaks or mantlets. They were worn in the evening for formal events, with the attached hood worn over the head or laying about the shoulders. Their length ranged from a cape that fell to the waist, to a billowing, full-length cloak.

Jubilee Cloak, 1809, La Belle Assemblée, Museum of London.

The Shawl ~ This must-have accessory could be made of muslin, gauze, or silk for warmer months, or wool, velvet, or cashmere for cooler times. They ranged in style from plain, solid colors to vibrant, intricate patterns.

Shawls from Costume Parisien, Plate no. 23, 1810.

 

Next week ~ head coverings!

 

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WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Colquarron

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Colquarron

It seemed a travesty to do a hit-and-run on Regency era cravats last week, so this week I wanted to look at them more in depth. To do that, I needed a somewhat relevant slang term. The one I chose is about as old and obscure a Cant term that can be found.

Colquarron

A man’s neck. CANT.

So, let’s get our supplies. According to MY Mr. Knightley, there are two ways to make a Regency cravat:

  1. Cut a long strip of cotton or linen material about 4 to 8 inches wide and at least 60 to 80 inches long, depending on the types of ties you will make. If you want your cravat to go twice around the neck then 80 inches is best.
  2. Cut a triangular piece of material, with the base of the triangle 60 to 80 inches long and against the selvedge. The height or point of the triangle should be centred in the middle and measure 10 inches high.

Next, there’s a handy pamphlet entitled Neckclothitania or, Tietania : an essay on starchers and collars / by One of the cloth, published in 1820 and illustrated by George Cruikshank, that details the popular styles of men’s neck attire of the era. After reading the complicated and constricting instructions for each design, it’s no wonder we authors have heroines’ hearts flutter at the sight of a bared skin, and take delight in unwrapping inch after delicious inch of linen from our heroes’ confined necks.

Let’s explore.

Reproduction of Neckclothania’s illustration of Cravats of 1820, from Jennifer Forest, Jane Austen’s Sewing Box: Craft Projects and Stores from Jane Austen’s World, Murdoch Press, 2009.

The Oriental

“…is made with a very stiff and rigid cloth… Care should be taken, that not a single indenture or crease should be visible in this tie; it must present a round, smooth, and even surface…”. The cloth is laid without crease on the front of the neck and wrapped around so the ends come to the front again for tying in a knot.

Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850) by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), Tamworth Boroug.h Council

The Mathematical

“is far less severe than The Oriental – there are three creases in it.” Whereas the Oriental is smooth on the neck, the Mathematical is deliberately creased along the neck. It doesn’t look terribly less stiff to me, however.

Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles by George Francis Joseph, 1817, National Portrait Gallery.

The Osbaldeston

“This neck-cloth is first laid on the back of the neck, the ends brought forward, and tied in a large knot, the breadth of which must be at least four inches, and two inches deep. This tie is very well adapted for summer; because instead of going round the neck twice, it confines itself to once.”

I could not find any contemporaneous examples that I was sure of being an Osbaldeston. So I present this anonymous gentleman whose presence in a picture puts him in the Victorian era, but who is wearing an Osbaldeston cravat.

The Napoleon

“It is first laid … on the back of the neck, the ends being brought forwards and crossed, without tying, and then fastened to the braces, or carried under the arms and tied on the back. It has a very pretty appearance, giving the wearer a languishingly amorous look.”

Anonymous “languishingly amorous” gent.

The American

“differs little from the Mathematical, except that the collateral indentures do not extend so near to the ear [the diagonal crease between the ear and the knot are not as long], and that there is no horizontal or middle crease in it.”

Robert Stewart (1769-1822), Viscount Castlereagh, later second Marquess of Londonderry, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, Royal Collection Trust, Waterloo Chamber, Windsor Castle.

The Mailcoach/Waterfall

“is made by tying it with a single knot, and then bringing one of the ends over, so as completely to hide the knot, and spreading it out, and turning it down in the waistcoat. The neck-cloth ought to be very large to make this Tie properly”…. “A Kushmeer shawl is the best, I may even say, the only thing with which it can be made.”

Portrait of a Gentleman by Francois Mulard, 1805, York Museums Trust.

Let me just pause the historical portrait examples right here and give a shout-out to the dresser of Rupert Penry-Jones in 2007’s Persuasion adaptation for having the most perfect Mailcoach/Waterfall I’ve ever seen.

Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth, Persuasion, 2007.

The Trone d’Amour

“is the most austere after the Oriental Tie – It must be extremely well stiffened with starch.” Its only ornament is “one single horizontal dent in the middle.”

Portrait of Frederick H. Hemming by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1824-25, Kimball Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas.

The Irish

“This one resembles in some degree the Mathematical, with, however, this difference, that the horizontal indenture is placed below the point of junction formed by the collateral creases instead of being above.” If you squint you can see that the diagonal creases meet at the point under the middle dent, just above the knot.

Thomas Campbell by Sir Thomas Lawrence, before 1830, National Portrait Gallery. I never thought I’d find an Irish cravat where you could actually see the two diagonal creases framing the center horizontal crease.

The Ballroom

“it unites the qualities of the Mathematical and Irish, having two collateral dents and two horizontal ones… It has no knot, but is fastened as the Napoleon.” In other words, just keep wrapping, just keep wrapping.

Joshua Tevis by Jacob Eichholtz, 1827, Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The Horse Collar

“It is certainly the worst and most vulgar… It has the appearance of a great half-moon, or horse-collar.” But you can tuck a double-chin behind it!

Portrait of the Artist John Vanderlyn, 1800, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Hunting

“is formed by two collateral dents on each side, and meeting in the middle, without any horizontal ones.”

Other Archer, Earl of Plymouth by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1817, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Those horizontal creases are everywhere!

The Maharatta/Nabob

“is very cool, as it is always made with fine muslin neck-cloths – It is first placed on the back of the neck, the ends are then brought forward, and joined as a chain-link, the remainder is then turned back, and fastened behind.”

Portrait of Sir Edward Pellew by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1797, National Maritme Museum.

Want to see some neck cloths in action? Head over to Townsends, and 18th century reproduction clothing and accessories house. It’s American, but it’s a nice place to lose some time. They have a nice little video on neckwear, too.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Dandy Grey Russet

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Dandy Grey Russet

Spring has sprung here in Texas, and the colors are phenomenal this year. We’ve had enough early season rain to make everything go supernova on the color spectrum.

Colors during the Regency period were no less fantastic, and had the names to match. From the pale watercolors of the young misses to the vibrant primaries of waistcoats and married ladies gowns, there was no shortage of shades and hues to drape the beau monde (although this term was likely not use in Regency England, but it sounds pretty and fits the context, so I’m going for it).

1807 Le Beau Monde plate

Dandy Grey Russet (noun)

A dirty brown. His coat’s dandy grey russet, the colour of the Devil’s nutting bag.

A few years ago, author Collette Cameron penned A Regency Palette – Colors of the Regency Era, a definitive list of fabric tints and pigments of the Regency, at Embracing Romance. Names like Jonquil and Cameleopard are far more evocative than mere yellow and beige. Even the dirty brown of the Word of the Week sounds spiffy when given the thieves’ slang treatment.

Behold the colors of the Regency.

Jonquil: yellow (daffodil)
Primrose and Evening Primrose: shades of yellow
Puce: a purplish pink (for some reason I always think puce is green)
Pomona Green: a cheery apple green

1816 Gothic-influence, via Ackermann’s Repository.

Coquelicot: sort of a poppy red
Emerald Green: a bluish-green, almost aqua
Cerulean Blue: a muted, almost grayish blue – but not popular during the Regency era (ack!)
Blossom: a light pink
Bottle Green: just like it sounds
Mazurine Blue: a mixture of indigo and violet
Slate: a mix between gray and lavender

London, June 1799 fashions, plate no. 16, printed for R. Phillips

Other Popular Regency Colors

Apollo: bright gold (1823)
Aurora: chili-colored (1809)

1805-6 Pelisses, via Ackermann’s Repository.

Aetherial: sky blue (1820)
Azure: sky blue (1820)
Barbel: sky blue (1820)
Cameleopard: French beige (1825)
Clarence: sky blue (1820)

1804 Walking Dress with Pelisse, via Ackermann’s Repository.

Devonshire Brown: mastic (1812)
Dust of Ruins: squirrel (1822)
Egyptian Brown: mace (1809)
Esterhazy: silver grey (1822)
Isabella: cream (1822)
Lavender: between heliotrope and parma (1824)
Marie Louise: calamine blue (1812)

1812 Pelisse and Carriage/Walking Coat, via Ackermann’s Repository.

Mexican: steel blue (1817)
Morone: peony red (1811)
Princess Elizabeth Lilac: Alice blue (1812)
Russia Flame: pale mastic (1811)
Spring: Cossack green (1810)
Terre D’Egypte: brick red (1824)
Parma Violet: violet (1811)

1809, Half-dress, via Ackermann’s Repository.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Frigate

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Frigate

Fashion is amazing.

I admit to being a blue jeans and t-shirt connoiseur myself, but I do pay attention to Fashion Week each  year, and gawk at what celebrities are wearing on award show red carpets. I understand nothing of the inspiration, vision, or sheer artistry behind the creativity of the designers of each new trend. I cannot fathom how an artist goes from making a-line skirts and coats one season, to sheer bandeaus and capris the next.

So while it makes no sense to me, it’s however no surprise that the gravity-defying pompadours and wider-than-doorway panniers of the late 18th Century gave rise to simple and straight empire gowns and natural hair – fashion evolves in mysterious and myriad ways. Since the styles of mothers from the era of George III dressed vastly different from their Regency-reared daughters, I thought it might be interesting to compare and contrast two styles. And since caricatures and fashion plates are vastly more entertaining than mere portraits ….

Frigate (noun)

A well-dressed wench; a well rigged-frigate.

Fashion Plate #43 in Galerie des Modes for 1778. Caption reads "Jeune Dame de Qualité en grande Robe coëffée avec un Bonnet ou Pouf élégant dit la Victoire Dessiné par Desrai." Translated means Young Lady in high quality cofeée dress with a hat or stylish pouf designed by Desrai.

Fashion Plate #43 in Galerie des Modes for 1778. Caption reads “Jeune Dame de Qualité en grande Robe coëffée avec un Bonnet ou Pouf élégant dit la Victoire Dessiné par Desrai.” Translated means Young Lady in high quality cofeée dress with a hat or stylish pouf designed by Desrai.

Mlle Des Victoire coiffure à la Grenade, 1779 (Miss Victory Hair Style à la Grenada). French propaganda print satirizing the big hair.

Mlle Des Victoire coiffure à la Grenade, 1779 (Miss Victory Hair Style à la Grenada). French propaganda print satirizing the big hair.

Launching a Frigate, 1790s, James Gillray

Launching a Frigate, 1790s, James Gillray

The Finishing Touch, James Gillray

The Finishing Touch, James Gillray

Tight Lacing, or Fashion before Ease, by Bowles and Carver after John Collet, London, ca. 1770–1775. From the collections of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Tight Lacing, or Fashion before Ease, by Bowles and Carver after John Collet, London, ca. 1770–1775. From the collections of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

The Fashions of the Day -or- Time Past and Present. Respectfully dedicated to the Fashionable Editors of La Belle Assemblé Le Beau Monde &c., &c. 1807, Charles Williams.

The Fashions of the Day -or- Time Past and Present. Respectfully dedicated to the Fashionable Editors of La Belle Assemblé Le Beau Monde &c., &c. 1807, Charles Williams.

Parisian Ladies in their Winter Dress for 1800, Isaac Cruikshank, 1799

Parisian Ladies in their Winter Dress for 1800, Isaac Cruikshank, 1799

The Rage or Shepherds I have lost My Waist, 1790s, Isaac Cruikshank

The Rage or Shepherds I have lost My Waist, 1790s, Isaac Cruikshank

High-change in Bond Street -ou- la Politesse du Grande Monde, James Gillray, 1796

High-change in Bond Street -ou- la Politesse du Grande Monde, James Gillray, 1796

Fashion Plate: A Lady of Hindoostan, 1809, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Fashion Plate: A Lady of Hindoostan, 1809, Los Angeles County Museum of Art