Daily Archives: December 7, 2013

The Whims of Fashion, April-June 1802

Hello again, fashion enthusiasts! I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s January-March styles, and have come ready for another dose of what ladies salivated over in 1802. Unfortunately April’s plate is black and white, but I think the colors were primarily black and white anyway, so we aren’t missing much.  The fur trim is likely swansdown, a continuation February trend where swansdown appeared in pelisses, trim, etc.  But doesn’t April look more wintry than January, which was bursting with rose and showed the short tunic?  An odd choice for fashion plates, but maybe Parisian ladies weren’t ready to give up their frosty glamour quite yet.

April of 1802

In Paris:

So, remember when I told you aigrettes were officially so yesterday? They are back (already?)  The great thing about April is that headdresses have become ridiculous. I wish there was a picture of this because the Medusa-like effect would be amusing, but the magazine describes the new style as: “The hair not only appears but forms twisted locks and are scattered over the whole head dress. To make trial of this strange fashion without sacrificing their hair, some elegantes have ordered black wigs a-la-Medusa.”

Something like this…

Medusa by Caravaggio (1595-96)

Medusa by Caravaggio (1595-96)

The other designs for the head are include plaited headdresses “…adorned with a garland of flowers or a bandeau of steel beads. The Pamela hats degenerate.”  Asiatic turbans are also starting to ever so slowly fall out of favor: “A few elegantes have in place of the turban, which continues so obstinately in fashion, a mob cap a-la-Figaro in silk gold net with gold tassels.”  I like the gold tassels.  It sounds either garish or fabulous, and reminds me of Diana Vreeland’s tassel earrings.

(As a side note, I watched the documentary about her, The Eye Has to Travel, last night on Netflix streaming.  If you like outrageous, original women, watch it.  She invented and embodies the word “pizzazz”)

In London:

April’s colors would make Chanel proud: white muslin dresses with white pelisses trimmed in black lace, worn with a black velvet cap. Tres chic!  Sprigged muslin and white cambric are another option for promenade dresses.  Spanish cloaks of white muslin are replacing pelisses, which are probably too warm for April; these will become a trend for some months to come.  The colors in London are straw, lilac, blue, and green.

May of 1802

In Paris:

Cashmere shawls like the one worn above are called Egyptian shawls. They actually come from India, but are routed through Egypt, thereby gaining the moniker.  Hats of white satin are most fashionable when worn with white ribbands and white feathers (like a powder puff on the head!)  Velvet hats still reign in the same colors of orange and scarlet, but “the turban fashion is much in decline.”  The hats a-la-Pamela, which were coveted two months ago, are outmoded.  What’s great about this month?  Hair adorned with diadems of white daisies.  This would look striking on dark hair.

In London:

The black lace trim of earlier months is holding steady.  In May, it appears as a broad trim on scarfs or shawls of lilac and other colors, tied with a ribbon bow.  Watch necklaces that perform double duty as lockets–a delightful ode to gentleman’s pocket watches–swing over the bodice of round white muslin dresses.  Other popular trinkets are harps with pearls (brand new and worn on a gold chain) and crescent diamonds worn near the bosom.  There is also mention of horns of the lamp of eve (anybody know what this means?  Lamp of evening?  Literally the lamp of Eve?  Horns = sinfulness, the devil?  I googled without luck.  If you are interested, the exact reference is, “the horns of the lamp of eve cannot be supposed to refer to the happy husbands of our modern belles.”)

Although scarlet and orange are seen, the colors are lilac, yellow, and blue.  The color silver is mentioned in sprays and trimming. Straw hats, seen in previous months, are decorated with flowers and tied beneath the chin. Dutch straw bonnets are turned up, in front and behind, and sport puffed up white muslin around the brim.  The fashionably short cloak sounds beautiful: lined with pink and trimmed with broad white lace.  May’s edition has the longest description of London’s fashions.  If you’re interested in reading more, click on the May’s Parisians fashion picture, and scroll to page 265.

June of 1802

In Paris:

The style pictured has altered slightly from last month. Sleeves are shorter and worn with white gloves.  The shawl is all one color. In other news, fashionable ladies read, and turbans and antique headdresses are officially dead. The veil is en vogue; also the half handkerchief of lace. Dark green and jonquil taffetas are beginning to replace the favored rose and lilac of yesterday.

In London:

Round dresses of white muslin that wrap around are very popular. For day dresses, cambric muslin is the choice of fashionable ladies. There’s a lot of white satin, white feathers, white muslin overall, along with lace. Dresses of violet silk with white sleeves trimmed in lace are making an appearance. Can you guess what the prevailing colors are? Lilac, flesh-color, blue and puce. I didn’t know puce was still popular in earliest 19th century.  Spanish cloaks of white muslin trimmed round with lace are also continuing to be seen on ladies.  For hats, the leghorn and chip are popular.  If you wish to learn more about 18th century hats, look at Lars Datter’s page.  It provides links to museums and has most every C18 hat you will want to see.

I’ll be back tomorrow for July to September fashions.