With the line of Regency gowns so straight and plain, dressmakers had to look to other parts of a dress for places to exert their creativity. One such part was a dress’s sleeves. While some Regency gowns boast sleeves as straight as their skirts, many feature sleeves with gentle or gigantic puffs. Still others display intricacies that would look overly fussy on a dress with a more curved or intricate line. Take for instance the sleeves on Plate 6: “short sleeves composed of the shell-scalloped lace and satin, decorated with bows on the shoulders, and formed so as to display perhaps rather too much of the bosom, back, and shoulders.” The sleeves look to me like tiny iced cupcakes, good enough to eat—which is perhaps why the writer felt called to add that cautionary note about the sleeves’ cut. All too easy to move from nibbling on a sleeve to nibbling on a bosom, back, or shoulder, no?
Have you seen other examples of intricate Regency dress sleeves?
This month’s issue features another “Letter from a Young Lady in London to Her Friend in the Country,” filled with fashion advice (which I will reprint in next week’s blog). Arbiter Elegantarium, who once delivered detailed advice via the fashion plates, seems to have been replaced by this new occasional feature. But perhaps AE has taken refuge in writing the fabric sample descriptions? Very different from the descriptions in past issues, July’s notes include digressions about choosing a dress color to match one’s complexion and the exhortation to avoid wearing a dress made of fabric of all one color: “It rarely happens, that a dress of one unbroken color, be it ever so brilliant, adorns the wearer, be she dark or fair, or her figure ever so graceful: so large a mass of color overpowers the countenance and complexion, and produces no high opinion of the taste of the wearer.” Do you agree with this opinion?