Time is of the essence to July 1811’s fashionable ladies: both include among their accessories a watch. The opera-bound lady will not be late if she keeps her “French repeating watch, with elastic gold chain and seals” wound. What is a “repeating watch”? A quick check of Wikipedia reveals that a “repeater,” which can refer to either a watch or a clock, chime the hours (and often the minutes) at the press of a button. Invented in the late 18th century, repeaters proved helpful for telling the time when one was in the dark, a handy feature when one lived in a time before electricity and/or gas brought artificial illumination to households. Because of their intricate, and tiny, mechanisms, repeater watches were much hard to craft than repeater clocks. Owning and displaying a repeater watch, then, clearly demonstrate that our opera-bound lady is not only fashionable, but well-to-do. The promenading lady’s timepiece is only listed as a “French watch.” Perhaps a repeater was too dear to take on a casual walk?
Beside our opera-loving lady stands a “youth,” the first time a fashion plate features a child whose gender is obvious. I don’t think one would bring a youth of this age to the opera, though, do you? Perhaps his “jacket and trowsers, à la Militaire” simply suggest that the opera mama is attending has a martial theme?
This month’s fabric samples feature a striking upholstery chintz, a floral printed on a background of “bright Sardinian blue.” And two evening dress fabrics, the latter, a “silver regency tissue,” worn by an unnamed beauty with “so much effect at the ground fête at Carleton-House.” I wonder who she was?
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