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Tuesday 13 March 2012

Regency spring fashion – evening wear

This is the second in my series of fashion blogs looking at the way spring fashions changed from 1806 to 1827. Continuing the theme of evening wear, today’s blog looks at the Regency period, from 1811 to 1820, using fashion plates from La Belle Assemblée from 1811, 1812 and 1816.

Spring 1811
Evening full dress   from La Belle Assemblée (Feb 1811)
Evening full dress
 from La Belle Assemblée (Feb 1811)
 “A gown of plain white India muslin, made loose in the neck, with long sleeves, and short train trimmed with a fancy border of stamped leaves in satin. A white satin cap, ornamented with crimson or maroon-coloured flossed silk trimming. A short Persian scarf of maroon-coloured silk, with rich border and tassels, is fancifully worn over the shoulders.”

Spring 1812
Evening dress   from La Belle Assemblée (Mar 1812)
Evening dress
 from La Belle Assemblée (Mar 1812)
“A velvet or gossamer satin gown of bright amaranth, ruby or cinnabar brown, with a demi-train, trimmed round the bottom, bosom and sleeves with a light tassel fringe, of the frivolité kind, of the same colour; apron of white crape, sarsnet or lace, ornamented with the same; sleeves of white satin, or of materials correspondent with the apron; these short sleeves made rather nearer to the elbow than formerly, and formed after the chemisette style. The body of the gown richly ornamented with beads or pearl, crossed like the ribband braciers, and confined at the bosom by a bright ruby broach, set round with pearl. The waist confined by two rows of beads or pearl, and fastened in front with a broach, the same as that on the bust. A lace half handkerchief, with a border richly embroidered in coloured silks, tied carelessly round the neck. Moorish turban of white satin and coloured crape twisted in the front, the same colour as the gown, and fastened on the crown with a ruby ornament to correspond with the broaches.”

Amaranth is a reddish-rose colour; cinnabar is a bright red colour tinted with orange.

Spring 1816
Parisian evening dress   from La Belle Assemblée (Feb 1816)
Parisian evening dress
 from La Belle Assemblée (Feb 1816)

“Round dress of soft white satin, made short enough to discover the muslin petticoat underneath, which is ornamented with two full quillings of fine lace; the satin dress finished at the border by four rows of scarlet velvet; the body made plain and crossed over the bust, which is very decorously covered, and ornamented by a plaited tucker of lace; the sleeves very short, and finished by a quilling to correspond with the tucker. Small Minerva bonnet of white satin and scarlet, with a superb plume of the same colours intermingled. Necklace of pearl, of the most elegant fabrication, consisting of the smaller pearls in clusters, with the large Oriental pear pearls depending. Hair is curls a-la-Ninon. White satin slippers confined round the ankle by ribbands; and white kid gloves.”

A quilling is a piece of quilled lace or other fabric used as a trim.

My observations

As expected, in common with the pre-Regency period, the dresses remain predominantly white. Many varieties of the colour red are popular throughout these designs: crimson, maroon, amaranth, cinnabar brown, ruby and scarlet are all mentioned in the details above. At the beginning of the Regency period, the sleeves are long; by 1816, they are “very short”. The last dress is much more detailed than the previous two and seems to herald the advent of the move away from Regency simplicity to the more elaborate designs and fuller skirts of the late Georgian period.

Sources used include:
Bell, John, La Belle Assemblée, various (1811-1816)

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