Earlier this month, I attended a wake for a young Catholic man. As I watched the mourners moving through the room, I noticed that many of the girls and young women wore necklaces with crosses of silver or gold. I had always regarded the wearing of such crosses as a particularly Catholic tradition, but this month’s fashion plates reminded me that Protestant women in the Regency period often donned the cross as an adornment, too. In both of March 1813’s plates, one featuring a Half-Dress, the other an Opera Dress, the ladies wear necklaces with a cross: in Plate 21, of amber beads; in Plate 22, of white satin beads. And of course, this reminds me of Jane Austen’s topaz cross, gifted to her by her brother Charles. Was wearing a cross always appropriate, no matter the occasion?
March’s “Patterns of British Manufacture” are all fabrics, three dress materials and one of linen shirting. The latter, despite being sold by the “East India Warehouse,” is apparently an English manufacture, for Ackermann declares it “of a quality equal to, and nearly half the price of Irish and foreign linens.” And it “prevents[s] a too profuse perspiration” to boot!
“It is sold, wholesale and by the piece, at the beforementioned warehouse, No. 16, Cheapside, and at no other house in London.” Were Regency shoppers drawn by such claims of exclusivity, I wonder?
Roman Catholics often have a crucifix– Christ still on the Cross while Protestants usually have the Easter cross. Some say that a cross is always in good taste. Others object to it being considered jewelry. Crosses were something that could be worn with mourning.
I would also say that many shoppers were influenced by claims of exclusivity. Many wanted to be in the forefront of fashion and have something others didn’t, or have something– even a fabric– they envied.
Thanks for presenting these fashion pages.
Bliss Bennet says
You’re very welcome, Nancy.
Women, and men, of many if not most Christian denominations wear crosses, and many wear them 24/7. Orthodox Christians, as you might imagine, are rarely without them.
Interesting fashion notes!