The first of October 1815’s fashion plates includes a negligé, but don’t get too excited; this negligé is far different than the garment we currently associate with the term. The French word négligé appears in an English source as early as 1715, but at that time was used as an adjective, to describe someone negligently or informally attired. By the mid-18th century in America, the term had also come to describe a lady’s loose-fitting gown or informal male garment. During the same period in England, the word was also used to describe a kind of men’s wig, and a necklace or girdle of irregularly set beads. Not until the mid 19th century did negligé take on its current meaning, a light dressing gown or nightgown, typically made of flimsy, semi-transparent fabric and trimmed with lace and ruffles.
Plate 22 features a white cambric muslin petticoat, topped by a white negligé, which to my eye looks more like a short, light jacket than a dressing gown. Although it is trimmed all round with “French work” to match that of the petticoat flounce, it appears to be made of the same cambric as the petticoat, not of any silky or semi-transparent fabric. More of a comfortable additional layer to keep the arms warm on chilly October mornings than something meant to entice the eyes of another.
Though Plate 23 is labeled ” Walking Dress,” its model sits, rather than walks, amongst picturesque rocks, a book open in one hand. She, too, is dressed in white cambric, though her second layer is more colorful than that of the lady in plate 22: an open pelisse of grey sarsnet, lined with salmon satin. Look at the slashed sleeves; though they appear grey in the plate, the description says they, too, are made from the salmon satin. An unusual color combination, don’t you think? I’m very drawn to the model’s French bonnet, with not one but three grey ribbons set about its crown, to match the pelisse.
This month’s needlework patterns feature swirls of leaves in three different settings.
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