Fascinating General Observations in this month’s fashion plate commentary by Arbiter Elegantiarum, condemning any female fashion that bears a resemblance to the dress of men:
“However ambitious of conquest the fair may be, they cannot expect to attain their object by inspiriting beholders with terror. Modesty and loveliness are their legitimate weapons, retreat and ambuscade their chief military manoeuvres. . . . ”
But AE goes on to enforce gender codes beyond simple fashion:
“I know there is a race of Amazons in the present age, the Lady Diana Spankers of the present day, to whom all this would appear the height of absurdity. To rival, not to captivate, men, is the aim of these heroines; but they will, I am sure, never find admirers or imitators amongst those who are distinguished for sensibility or intelligence.”
Lady Diana Spanker is a character in the children’s story “Mademoiselle Panache,” by Maria Edgeworth. Edgeworth describes her as a “dashing, rich, extravagant, fashionable widow” whom her main character, a coquette, uses as a foil to make herself look more appealing. Lady Di’s “masculine intrepidity and disgusting coarseness” would likely be familiar to readers, as Edgeworth’s Moral Tales were hugely popular in the period.
Clothing for the beach is certainly different now than it was in the Regency, isn’t it?
August’s fabric samples include another colorful chintz for furniture, and a “leno,” which Fairchild’s Dictionary of Textiles tells us is “a fabric made with a leno weave” ; “leno weaving” is “a weaving process in which warp yarns are arranged in pairs,” giving an strength to open weave fabrics. Here’s a picture of a modern weaver’s leno wall hanging: