White, enlivened by touches of pink, are the colors featured in Ackermann’s March 1812’s fashion plates, which depict an “Indoor Morning Dress” and an “Evening Full Dress.” I wonder if the pearls (or, for the more frugal lady, white beads) adorning the stomacher of the evening dress sat heavily on one’s chest?
This month’s General Observations focus on the irony of current-day language to describe the dress appropriate for different times of the day:
“what will the good people say to the names applied to dress, when they are informed, that the undress of the present day consists of a comfortable kind of habiliment closed round the neck and covering the arms; that the half-dress is rather more open and exposed; and that the full-dress scarcely admits of any covering at all, bit in common language would be called complete nakedness.”
In fact, our commenter explains in a footnote, the full-dress pictured in plate 18 “is not at all a fair specimen of haut ton” because it exposes far less bare skin that do the fashionable dresses worn by the denizens of society. “[W]e could not overcome the modest objects of the artist, to representing the figure in the extreme of fashion,” an extreme in which the “whole of the bust, shoulders, and arms may be completely exposed.”
Women should not ape such fashions, our commentator recommends, for if the “object is to captivate,” “by this abrupt exposure, all those little arts which arise out of the consciousness of inspiring admiration, are at an end; what man would be ambitious to possess the confidence of a lady who freely unbosoms herself to all around her?”
I can’t help but feel that the entire column was written just so the author could crow over that particularly painful pun…
I’m struck by this month’s fabric sample #4, a “very striking and appropriate printed Marseilles for gentlemen’s waistcoats.” According to Fairchild’s Dictionary of Textiles, a “marseilles” is “a double-faced cotton quilting that is made in a plain jacquard weave with a raised, woven pattern…. Usually it is made with two sets of filling one fine and one coarse, and one fine warp. The plain ground is composed of the fine yarns, the coarse ply filling the floats to form the raised figures” (347). I’m wondering if the brown dye of the raised figures (which have a flavor of native american bird motifs, to my eye) have bled, making the plain ground appear mottled.