The shapes of Regency dresses are often simple, but the addition of detailed, intricate ornamentation differentiates the gowns of the bourgeois from those of the fashionable. Such fancy trims are on display in Ackermann’s fashion prints of November 1813. Plate 33, a Morning Dress, features a shirt with a “deep fan frill of vandyke lace, the dress ornamented at the bottom, to correspond.” Its accompanying spencer also features vandyke lace on the cuffs, as well as Spanish slashed sleeves and front embellishments made of cord and button.
The sleeves and neckline of the Evening Dress in Plate 34 are ornamented with puckered white satin, to compliment to the blossom-colored crape of the round robe. The bottom of the trained gown is also adorned, with a combination of white satin and blossom-colored crape, in what looks a bit like oversized flower blossoms. The writer notes that the gown’s “back and bosom [are] uncommonly (not to say unbecomingly) exposed,” suggesting such low cut gowns might be verging on the edge of risqué in the early years of the 18-teens.
Both prints show their models wearing their hair in loose curls, curls adorned with “a small sprig of barberry” in the informal morning dress, and “small autumnal flowers of various hues” for the formal evening dress. Real flowers, I wonder? Or artful imitations?
November’s fabric samples include #1, an “animated and lively sample of the true Circassian cloth,” a fabric that Fairchild’s Dictionary of Textiles reports is “a yard-dyed fabric made of wool and cotton with a diagonal wave. Original made in France with wool warp and filing; in England with mohair yarns.” Lively and warm enough for fall’s chill!
Fabric sample #2 may not look as interesting, a simple “specimen of the new patent twine cloth, for sheeting,” but its method of production is “extremely curious,” as the machine upon which it is produced is “worked by steam.” Steam-driven power looms had first been built in 1785, but this aside suggests how novel they still were in the Regency period.