Friday, November 7, 2014

Ackermann’s Fashion Week ~ Friday - June 1809

As seems to be my habit this week I am running late again with my post. Today's post comes from the June 1809 edition of Ackermann's Repository.


Standing Figure, - A Venetian spencer of violet satin, or sarsnet, with a row of small round buttons embroidered in silver; with a pendant loop to each; confined at the neck with a silk cord or silver tassel. Beaver hat of the same colour, rather small, turned up in front, with a silver button and loop. Worked muslin dress and skirt, to shew the feet and ankles. Black silk slipper and York tan gloves.

Sitting figure, - Muslin under-dress, with full loose sleeves; a Tunic á l’antiqure of yellow crape, trimmed with broad lace round the bottom; yellow silk head-dress, with short veil. Purple mantle, lined with white. York tan gloves.

             Swedish coat of grey cloth or silk, clasped down the front with silver ornaments; short open sleeves. Hat of same colour, turned up with silver loop.

            Spotted muslin under-dress, over which a light coal, bordered with cerulean blue. Blue silk head-dress, bound round with silver cords and tassels. Blur silk scarf, lined with white; silver border and tassels. White shoes edged with blue. York tan gloves.

            The Gothic taste, which the introduction of the Spanish costume seemed likely to revive, has now completely given place to the simple and more elegant forms of Grecian antiquity. The long waist, that merciless destroyer of every thing that is beautiful, must be no more known or thought of. The wasp-like division of the human form, which this monstrous fashion produces, is perfectly irreconcilable with antique simplicity.

            Shawls are much worn; they are admirably adapted to the promenade, as they afford, in the throw and arrangement, such fine opportunities for display of the wearer’s taste.
            Silk head-dresses, á l’antiqure, with short veils, are most in request for the promenade; straw hats and bonnets are worn, but not so generally.

            To Mr. Thomas Hope’s recent publication on Ancient Costume, is the late change in dress principally to be attributed:- indeed, to the exertions of this gentleman almost all our modern improvements in taste may be referred. It is hoped the publication alluded to will become the cade-meum and toilet-companion of every lady distinguished in the circles of fashion.

            I wish it were in my power to report any similar improvement in the adaption of colour to character and complexion. In this essential part of dress, confusion and inconsistency still prevail. It is not unusual to see a lady of a pallid hue render herself ghastly by placing red, pink, or lilac near her face; the fairest complexion is frequently disfigured by brown, green, or red; and the most lovely brunette rended frightful by a dress of light blue or grey. These, and a thousand similar absurdities, constantly occur, and it is to these errors that I would now apply a corrective. – Ambitious that the British fair should be as much superior to other nations, in the taste of their dress, as they are in the beauty of their person, I wish it particularly to be understood, that, though in my character as Arbiter Elegantiarum, I might publish dogma and compel obedience, yet I do not ask assent to the following observation, till my fair readers have taken the advice of their sage and sapient counsellor, looking glass.

            Few colours will look absolutely ill on a fair complexion, provided the checks be tinged with the rosy hue of health. There are, however, some which detract from its natural sweetness. Green and brown are or of the latter class. Light blue, grey, and lilac, of the former. A small quantity of either of these colours, will be found to add to the fairest face, a charm inexpressible.

The brunette must regulate her dress by the contrary rule. She may roam at large through all varieties of res, brown, yellow, green, and olive provided they be kept of a dark or of a negative hue. No light colours, can be admitted with impunity.

The sallow complexion will find advantage from a head-dress, handkerchief, ribbon, or border, of yellowish green or olive; and the pallid hue of sickness, in a fair complexion, will be considerably relieved by a ribbon of the most tender and delicate blue.

Scarlet and pea-green are completely inadmissible; of the latter may at anytime be adopted, it must be only in the smallest quantity. A ribbon or a border is all that can be allowed.

We shall resume this subject on a future occasion.
 Arbiter Elegantiarum

             Dark olive green and bottle-green coats are still much worn, and the season has brought into requisition marcella waistcoats of all descriptions, colours, and patterns: buff, however, is the most prevalent. Nankeen drawers and gaiters are very general for morning dress.

            It is now the haut ton to wear the collar of the coat very high behind, worked round to stand off, and cut very low in front.

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