Wednesday, 18 August 2010

1811 Fashion Wisdom

When researching I always look at primary source evidence whether it is an original dress, painting, miniature or text of the epoch. Whilst researching corsets I read further into 'The Mirror of Graces' and thought these passages particularly interesting with advice that is relevant today.

"But in our days, an English woman has the extensive privilege of arraying herself in whatever garb may best suit her figure or her fancy. The fashions of every nation and of every era are open to her choice. One day she may appear as the Egyptian Cleopatra, then a Grecian Helen ; next morning the Roman Cornelia; or, if these styles be too august for her taste, there are Sylphs, Goddesses, Nymphs of every region, in earth or air, ready to lend her their wardrobe. In short, no land or age is permitted to withhold its costume from the adoption of an English woman of fashion.

Elegant dressing is not found in expense; money without judgment may load, but never can adorn. You may show profusion without grace: you may cover a neck with pearls, a head with jewels, hands and arms with rings, bracelets and trinkets, and yet produce no effect, but having emptied some merchant's counter upon your person. The best chosen dress is that which so harmonizes with the figure as to make the raiment pass unobserved. The result of the finest toilet should be an elegant woman, not an elegantly* dressed woman. Where a perfect whole is intended, it is a sign of defect in the execution when the details first present themselves to observation.

In short, the secret of dressing lies in simplicity, and a certain adaption to your figure, your rank, your circumstances- To dress well on these principles, (and they are the only just ones) does not require that extravagant attention to so minor an object, as is usually exhibited by persons who make the toilet a study. When ladies place the spell ol their attraction in their clothes, we generally see them arrayed in robes of a thousand makes and dyes, and curiously constructed of materials brought from heaven knows where. Thus much time, thought, and wealth are wasted on a comparatively worthless object. To lavish many of the precious hours of life in the invention and arrangement of dress, is as criminal an offence, as to exhaust the finances of your husband or parents by a thriftless expenditure on its component parts".

Friday, 13 August 2010

Take Two Uniforms.....

Here are two uniforms I made in the past few years. The first a Kings German Legion tunic from the Napoleonic period for re-enacment. Second a late Victorian Rifle Officers tunic for History Horse

Monday, 9 August 2010

A day with Skinners Horse at Broadlands

I was invited by my friends at Skinners Horse to join them for their display at Broadlands House. My outfit was a conversion from my 1880s ballgown into a day dress (see earlier blog post). I did this by adding a chemisette to fill in the neckline and some tulle sleeves to the bodice. The weather here in England is changeable at the moment and true to form it turned into a hot day just as I had to wear four layers of clothing. In fact the weather was quite fitting for a re-creation of the 1st Bengal Lancers (Skinners Horse).
Thanks to Tiffany Parkinson for the photos

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Here's one I made earlier........

I made this circa 1805-10 bib-fronted dress from a badly damaged paisley shawl a few years ago. The linen flaps overlap and are pinned together. Then the 'bib' front is pinned on either side over the top of the flaps. Two ties then are passed around the centre back through loops to pull up the front skirt panel to fit. These dresses are very practical as you can dress yourself without help. The contrast decoration on the bodice front and sleeves came from the border of the shawl which I used for the entire hem.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Coming soon...

I've had many enquiries about the catalogue for
Napoleone e l’Impero della Moda 1795-1815. I'm pleased to announce that the English version will be available in the next couple of months published by Skira. I'll post as soon as I have more information.
Thank you for all your comments too. I really appreciate them.