Roses are the theme of October 1816’s fashion plates, serving as trimming for both the Half Dress gown of plate 22, and the Ball Dress of plate 23. The Half Dress is described as being made of “lilac sarsnet,” but the ink of the print seems to have changed over time, to a dark almost black shade here. The print doesn’t show us the front of the gown, but we can see the unusual back, with its bands of pink ribbon in a triangle from each shoulder to the waist center. Pink ribbon also serves as a double border between which appears a row of large “French roses.” The model’s cornette, or cap, comes in for particular praise; even though the style is “French” it is “so simply elegant and becoming, that we have not for some time seen any half-dress cap to equal it.”
Both of the gowns featured in this month’s plates were provided by one of the magazine’s subscribers; perhaps said subscriber had a particular fondness for French roses, for they appear as a headdress atop the model of plate 23’s ball gown, too [Does anyone know what makes a rose “French”?] This ball gown also features a triple-trimmed hem: closest to the hem is a “rich rollio of intermingled gauze and satin”; in the middle is a “wreath of fancy flowers” [perhaps including some French roses?]; white satin swags topped by small bows serve as the third band of adornment. Trimming “uncommonly tasteful and striking,” opines our columnist.
Highlights from the general observations on Fashion and Dress include:
• Current trends in trimming for promenade dresses (“about a half a quarter in breadth; it is disposed in bias flutings,, and finished at both ends with pipes”) is deemed “in very bad taste” by our columnist: “it is formal, and not at all novel, and has no other recommendation than being fashionable.”
• Walking dresses current feature trimming of two or three flounces, lightly embroidered in colours. “”We do not mean an intermixture, but various shades of the same colour: evening primrose, dark blue, and green are most in favour”
• Gloucester bonnets and spencers still remain popular
• Collars are “entirely exploded, and ruffs continue to be an indispensable part of walking or carriage dress”
• Morning dresses, with their triple fall of work at the wrist, “have, at a distance, an uncommonly ludicrous effect; the trimming being pointed, and worked in holes, has the appearance, specially when there are so many falls of it, of being actually in rags.” Ah, what the élégantes will wear, all in the name of fashion!
• Clear muslin bodices, made half-high, are all the crack for dinner dress; back bodices have become wider, after decreasing a bit over past months
• Being on the short side myself, my sympathies were engaged by this tidbit: “Dresses are still trimmed very high, which is a great disadvantage to under-sized belles”
Fashionable colors of the month are:
Dark and azure blue
October’s Needle-work patterns: