February’s prints feature a Ball Dress and a Walking Dress. Unfortunately, there seems to be some discoloration in Plate 11, the Ball Dress. The dress’s fancy border, sleeve bands, bodice, and the accompanying slippers are all described as “marigold” in color, but the bodice in the print looks as if the summery yellow has partially faded to a brown tone more suited to autumn. Or does the print appear this way in other libraries’ copies?
The walking costume (plate 12) also features brown, but in this case the brown seems original to the print: the “Russian mantle” is described as being made of “fine drab cloth.” The fetching bonnet, a “village hat,” is described as being “simply tied across the crown with a Barcelona handkerchief,” an accessory with which I was not familiar. According to Fairchild’s Dictionary of Textiles, a Barcelona handkerchief is “a fine, twilled silk square in solid colors, checks, and fancy designs, worn around the head or neck. Originally made in Spain and later manufactured in Great Britain for export to southern Europe, North Africa, and South America” (41). I quite admire its shade of rose, don’t you?
This month’s fabric sample descriptions suggest one way a Regency-era lady of fashion might while away a dull morning: by visiting a fabric warehouse. In particular, that belonging to the “celebrated Allen of Pall-Mall,” which “now classes amidst the polite morning lounges of fashionable resort.” Didn’t realize this, but according to the OED, “lounge” can refer not only to “a kind of sofa or easy chair on which one can life at full length,” but also to “a place for lounging” or to “a pastime.” Which usage do you think is meant here?