Black velvet or silk patches
were used in the 1600s to cover smallpox scars. The fashion lasted well into the 18th Century
and the era of Georgian high society. The patches were small
plain dots of black taffeta or velvet and the shapes developed into various
symbols such as stars and moons. These were then gummed to the scars.
After 1760 the fashion for French hairstyles grew as fast as the size of
the enormous styles. It took hours to dress the hair so high. Hair was initially built up over horsehair and wool padded frames beginning
with the natural hair. Then vast amounts of false hair was added,
sometimes building the hair up to reach 30 inches. This was about
half the height of the average female of the day. Hair was worn so
high that the chin was halfway between the top of the head and the feet.
St. Paul's Cathedral.
High hairstyles were
typically topped with scenes depicting farmyards or ships or floral and jewel ornamentation.
Kashmir has always been known
for its genuine Kashmir shawls made of the most beautiful quality very fine
cashmere wool with woven and embroidered patterns. Such shawls have always
been considered one of the most
useful and attractive accessories. The draped shawls emphasised the
classical effects that women strived for. Other stoles and long slender
scarves were also used, but the Kashmir was prized.
The mameluke was a turban. By 1804 exotic turbans were usually seen at night. The white
satin mameluke turban was trimmed with an ostrich feather and worn early on in
A capote was a Poke bonnet with a soft crown.
The leghorn was a very big crowned hat made of
straw. The name comes from the leghorn straw used. Fabrics such as taffeta
silk were ruched and pleated to make flowerpot style hats with wide deep
The reticule bag was a
new accessory in the late 1790s because women had carried their pockets about
their waist when their gowns had been large enough to hide them. Reticules were pretty
small decorative purse like bags, similar to an evening bag of today and which held a
lady's belongings. Some had steel hoops which gave a concertina like framed
effect. Others might be circular with ribbon drawstrings and feather trimmed.
Still others might be steel mesh trimmed with pailettes and steel fringe beading.
Beaded evening bags and purses of today are mostly based on reticules.
A parure was
a matching set of jewels consisting of a necklace, earrings, perhaps
bracelet or hair ornament. After the coronation of Emperor
Napoleon and Empress Josephine when the splendid, reset, French royal family jewels
were worn, matching jewel sets called Parures
once again gained popularity.
The tippet was a long slender boa fashion accessory used to
wrap the neck area. It was a fancy version of the scarf and could be made of
swansdown or fur. It became popular again in 2004.
Cloaks and mantles
were three quarter length or full length. Winter cloaks were fur lined. About 1808 the Witzchoura
mantle a fashion from Poland was a fur trimmed three quarter length mantle
with wide open sleeves.
Panier supported skirts first appeared in England in 1709 and in Paris in
1718-19. Over the years there were many variations. I n England paniers were
sometimes called improvers. The term panier after the French name of panier
means basket and was an undergarment used to support a sack dress sometimes called the sac or saque or the contouche. They are
also commonly called by the
misnomer Watteau gowns, or Watteau pleats simply because the artist Watteau
recorded early versions in his paintings. He did not record later variations. This sack dress probably developed from the over gown worn in the late
17th century. They were worn with a circular Panier and were fashionable until later
An important style change occurred about 1772 when the overskirt became drawn
up by invisibly placed inner tapes producing a ruched festoon bustle. It was
called the polonaise skirt and was supported by special basket hoops as shown in
the drawing. It was said that the
fashion arose when maids picked up the sides of their Panier skirts and pushed
them into the pocket slit openings to enable them do their work more easily. The
drawn up skirt revealed the petticoats and these then became an important
fashion. The chest was forced forward and gave a pouter pigeon effect.
The towns of Paisley and
Norwich copied the Kashmir shawls. Paisley made reversible shawls.
Firstly they were woven, but later to cut costs and beat competition
Norwich started to print the shawls. By the Edwardian Era even
cheaper printed paisley shawls bought for shillings were worn solely by
the lower classes.
What word was being used to replace stays around 1800 in both England and America?
The word corset was replacing the word stays.
The soft muslin dresses of 1800 clung to the body highlighting the natural
body outline. This made it difficult to wear stays, but those with imperfect
figures had no choice.
The Empire fashions at the turn of the century
were often little more than sheer nightgowns. The practical solution to
the discomfort of lighter clothing was to adopt the warm male undergarment
called pantaloons. Made of light stockinet in a flesh colour they went all
the way to the ankles or to just below the knee. The flesh tone
pantaloons acted in the same way flesh toned bra and briefs do today under
white or pastel trousers and top. It is for this reason that Empire women
paintings of the era, often appear to be wearing no underwear.
1820s the skirts widened with frills and were often horsehair padded at
hemline to make them stand away from the legs.
Before 1815 Britain had become the most powerful
country in the world. The agricultural revolution had meant increased
quantities of better food. The industrial revolution meant new towns and new
growing populations and a change of circumstances for many people..
The new invention by James Hargreaves
in 1764 was the Spinning Jenny. New
inventions such as the Spinning Jenny meant that fewer hands were
required in many trades and so a surplus of manpower with too many workers
chasing too few jobs arose.
The Poor Law was a practice of making up wages through the
Poor Law. It was worse than the initial cause and created a new pauper class who
were thriftless, servile and often drunk. Because children were worth one
shilling and sixpence a week through the Poor Law, the pauper class actively
embraced huge families increasing the problems.
James Watt invented the steam
The period 1800-1837 is part of the Georgian era.
George III was insane after 1811, but alive until 1820. His son the Prince
Regent, George, acted as Regent for nine years of the King's madness, then
reigned 1820-1830. Because of the influence of the Georgian Prince Regent on the
era, it is known as the Regency.
Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned
Emperor of France in 1804.
Empress Josephine was an icon and fashion leader of her time. She
was an ideal model for the slender fashions of the day designed by
An empire style dress was a high waisted graceful
style of the early 19th century. The Empire dress
evolved in the late 1700s began as a chemise shift gathered under the
breasts and at the neck. Named after The First Empire, by 1800 it had a very décolleté
low square neckline, a short narrow backed bodice and separate skirt. The small
neat puff sleeves barely capped the shoulder. They were pulled back by the
narrow cut of the bodice and this restricted arm movement to a certain daintiness.
The classical decoration on dresses was inspired by images of
Grecian ladies from original Greek art. Between 1800 and 1803 classical ornament
used geometric shapes. Greek key patterns decorated garment hems, sleeve bands
and shawls. All the embroidery was initially delicate and light, faithfully
following the classical influence, but eventually the embroidery became coarsely
Chemisettes were side opening half blouses which filled the bare neckline by
day. They had side fastenings
were worn under low necked gowns as a modesty filler. When Regency sleeves covered the hand they were called à la mamelouk.
After 1808 Spanish ornament featured on
Regency robes and
appeared as slashed areas and tiered sleeves. Peasant influence
from European dress was particularly applied to the name of coats, cloaks and
mantles such as the Witzchoura redingote an empire cloak of Russian origin. Frogging,
braids, cords, velvet and other trims lent a topical jaunty military air to
garments. By 1811 Gothic influences crept into dress styles. The flowing
medieval touches soon broadened to include Tudor and Elizabethan times with
ruffed and Vandyke triangular pointed decoration and cross over bodices. In
England copious trimmings on skirts were all the rage from flounces and padded
rolls to pleated, fanned and tucked trims.
In 1815 with the
Napoleonic wars over, Britain began to follow French fashion trends for wearing a
high waistline. The waistline reached its peak height in 1816-17 when the line
fell directly under the breasts. Almost as soon as the waist had risen, 1818
fashion plates began to show the waistline dropping and tightening. It continued
to drop annually by an inch, until by 1825 it was at last in its normal
A leg of lamb sleeve was known
as a Gigot sleeve. The full length gigot
or leg of lamb sleeve or the gigot de mouton could also be known as the leg of mutton sleeve.
It was first
seen in 1824. The long sleeve pattern was cut on the true cross of the fabric. It was rounded at the top, increasing to greater size. After 1825 the decade saw sleeves billow to huge
proportions by 1833. They came to typify the look we now associate with
the costume of the Romantic Era.
form of pelisse worn from 1800 to 1810 was an empire line coat like garment to
the hip or knee. After 1810 it was worn full length and was a warmer longer
sleeved coat than the Spencer, but often made of the same materials. It was usually fur
trimmed, straight in cut, belted at a high waist like the gown and sported a broad
cape like collar an influence of military styles. The colours for pelisses were golden
brown or dark green and it was normally worn over pale gowns
which were visible as it was worn open at the front.
A coat dress variation
was often called a pelisse-robe. From 1818 onwards women wore it for indoors or outdoors and was essentially a sturdy front fastening carriage,
walking or day dress.
The Spencer was a
short top coat without tails worn by men during the 1790s as an extra covering
over the tailed coat. It had long sleeves and was frequently decorated with
military frogging. Its originator is thought to be Earl Spencer who singed the
tails of his coat when standing beside a fire. He then had the tails trimmed off
and started a fashion. A female version was soon adopted by gentlewomen
who at the time were wearing the thin light muslin dresses of the 1790s. The
Spencer was worn as a cardigan is worn today. It was a short form of jacket to
just above waist level cut on identical lines to the dress.
The Redingote was worn from 1818 onwards initially indoors in cold weather, worn open whilst
revealing the dress beneath. Its name derives from
the 18th century version of a riding coat. It was used in place of a
loose cloak and as it developed a series of shoulder capes it became very
suitable for travel. As dresses widened so the Redingote widened. Redingotes
were usually trimmed with fur and mostly made of heavy dark cloth.
Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Northanger Abbey,
Persuasion, Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility.
Earlier in 1705 Beau Nash had become Master of Ceremonies at the Assembly
Rooms in Bath. He laid down rules of etiquette relating to behaviour and
acceptable dress. By 1730 Bath was the most fashionable city in England.
this position until the Regency Era, by which time it was highly established as
the place to be seen.
was a taste that sprang from the French word 'Rocaille'
which literally meant rocky or shell encrusted and which flourished between 1730
and 1780. Such forms often decorated mirrors, furniture and ceramics with
curlicue S shapes and furbelows.
The Age of
Adam coincided with the early stages of industrialization so that people like Hepplewhite, Wedgwood and Boulton
were greatly influenced by the spirit of Robert Adam. Adam’s influence
meant that Rococo waned and was replaced by more delicately balanced items, but
by the early 1800s even Adam was thought too fanciful and
Lord Elgin. The Greek revival was boosted in 1806 when Lord
Elgin brought pieces of the Parthenon from Athens to London. Suddenly the vogue
was for every item in interiors to be Classically Greek. There had to be Greek
styled tables, chairs, coaches, wall hangings, pottery and silver all following
the clean simplicity of pure Greek palaces. Connoisseurs began to look to Greece
rather than Rome for inspiration. Greek design was thought purer and simpler
than Roman sources.
Most of the classical
buildings erected during the early 1800s culminated in John Nash's
improvements in Central London which began in 1811. They included 'The
Royal Mile' that cut through London town in an uninterrupted sweep. The
central section of the sweep was called 'Regent Street' and this ended in
a spacious park called Regent's Park. Much of this still survives as
a monument to the last great attempt at classicism and is known as The
Regency after the era lasting from 1811-1820.
influence in dress fashions was at its peak during the Romantic Era between 1825 and
1835. The romantic spirit in fashionable dress lasted until the late 1840s.
writings of Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron helped popularise a thirst for a
more romantic image. There was a snobbish attraction on the continent for all things
English, cultivated and refined.
Many of the attitudes toward
the 'Art Of Dress' had been codified by Beau Brummell in his
relationship with the Prince Regent. The rules and refinements of
manners set at that time were built on and developed by the middle
classes of Europe who sought to gentrify themselves.
Beret sleeves were cut from
a circle. There was an opening in the centre for the arm and this
was gathered and bound into a band. The outer circle was gathered
and set into the armhole. Sometimes a sheer over sleeve of silk
embroidered shimmering gauze covered the beret puff. Generally the
beret sleeve was worn for evening.
By the mid 1830s the
enlarged top cap was sagging with its own enormity. There was so much material
that the fullness initially held up with inner stiff buckram support or 'crin'
horsehair fabric began to flop. The buckram was replaced with either whalebone
hoops in a cotton cover or feather filled pads. When by 1835 the supports
stopped being effective the sagged fabric volume collapsed down the arm and
merged into a new sleeve fashion.
An Apollo Knot was high
hairstyle of twisted curled knots decorated with trimmings, flowers.
It was not a wig of the Georgian style. Women's hair between 1825 an
1845 was elaborate and ingenious. The most modish hair fashion was the
'Apollo Knot', a striking style tending to lean to one side.
In the 18th century a very
popular cloak in Britain was the Cardinal, a three quarter cloak with a
hood. This scarlet red woollen cloak remained very popular until 1800.
It had a silk lined hood under the lined, quilted collar, so that when
the hood was in use the collar automatically got drawn up around the
back neck and face making for a very warming experience. C18th
cloaks were often made of broadcloth since because it was so tightly
woven, it didn't unravel. The broadcloth selvedge was also sturdy and
compact making it suitable to use as a firm simple edge, enabling easy
construction at home. Such cloaks are very simple to make.
In 1817 James Syne
discovered a coal tar extract that had the property of dissolving India
rubber. He passed the formula to the Glaswegian firm of Charles
Macintosh. It took Macintosh until 1823 and further trials to patent a
method of layering naphtha softened rubber between a sandwich of woven
woollen cloth. Factory works in Manchester carried out the
invention and in 1830 Thomas Hancock who was a competitor in
waterproofed goods became a partner.
Queen Victoria was crowned
in 1837 and reigned until 1901.