Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wheels in Motion- the 1820's

I'll be honest, this week I completely expected to write a blog post that ridiculed the 1820's for their puffy sleeves and silly amounts of accessories. Boy, was I wrong. While it's true that I still prefer the naturalistic simplicity of 1790-1810, I've really come to appreciate the grandeur and opulence of 1820's fashion.

And I've also discovered that the 1830's are WAY more ridiculous than the 1820's. Just you wait 'till next week.

A breathtaking gown from the beginning of the decade. Check out the empire waist, trims, and sleeves.
At the beginning of the decade, the empire waist was still popular.  During the first half of the decade, there were slight changes, but nothing too drastic until about 1825, when natural waistlines came into fashion.

Another early decade ballgown. The waistline is a little lower than usual, but not quite at the natural waist.
By the end of the decade, long, large sleeves were the norm for daywear, skirts were fuller, and waists were lower. Necklines on daywear shot up. Mustard yellow was a popular color, and bolder prints came into fashion, as shown below.



One thing I'm noticing as I leaf through fashion plates of the 1820's is that trims seem to be subduing ever so slightly. Maybe it's just me, but it looks like the trims are going back to the same color as the main garment, and are disappearing from some garments altogether, instead of being on EVERYTHING as in the later half of the 1810's. By the 1830's and 1840's, they'll disappear completely.

Hairstyles also saw a change near the middle of the decade. I mentioned in last week's post that a new trend in hair was curls worn near the temples to frame the face. As the decade wore on, these curls became more and more voluminous, and something that I can only describe as "tall hair loopies" (hey there, Avatar fans) were worn on the back of the head.

The two images in the middle are good examples of early and mid-late decade styles, respectively.
An early-mid decade hairstyle. Note the tiny hair loops in the back. On the clothing front, check out the mustard yellow, embroidered trim, and patterned shawl.
A closer look at bigger curls on either side of the head.
Next week, everything gets just a little more ridiculous. Hairstyles, hair accessories, hats, and sleeves will only get wackier as we venture into the 1830's and I start to reference "Wives and Daughters." 


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Age of the Detail- The 1810's

So you may have noticed over the past few decades that there hasn't been very much change in the way of fashion. Empire waists are still the norm, and fabrics, hairstyles, and accessories have only changed in very subtle ways. This is for the simple reason that the world has always taken its fashion from France, and France is a little busy right now.

Instead of drastic changes in the shape and fabric of garments like those that took place in the 1790's and are to come in the 1820's and 30's, the changes that took place in fashion in the 1800's and 10's are much more subtle and miniscule. Hairstyles stayed pretty static during the first few decades of the century, but during the late 1800's and 1810's there came the trend of wearing curls over the ears.

Sported here by Louise Dylan portraying Harriet Smith.
This style would lay the groundwork for increasingly elaborate and ridiculous hairstyles in the 1820's and 30's. Anyone who has seen an adaptation of "Wives and Daughters" knows what I'm talking about.

One thing that I keep noticing as I research the 1810's is the advent of the trim. 

Dresses from the beginning of the decade, like the one shown above, seem to have light, embroidered trims around the skirt. White-on-white embroidery was very popular near the beginning of the century.

As the decade wears on, trims seem to become more three-dimensional, and in different colors from the main garment. Trims took many forms, such as ruffles and flower accents.

 A floral accent trim. The skirts seem to be getting slightly fuller as the decade wears on.
By the end of the decade, trim wasn't just on the edge of the skirt, but on sleeves, spencers, shoulders, necklines, and as shown in the image below, bonnets.


I mentioned in last week's post that one of my first impressions of the decade was that it was "The Age of the Accessory." It might have been more appropriate to dub it "The Age of the Detail." This is because it seems like elaborate hats, color coordinated walking ensembles, ruffles, bows, and other bibs and bobs that were still part of the garment were more popular than ever, replacing the straightforward, natural simplicity of the late 1790's and early 1800's. This was helped along by Napoleon's defeat in 1815, which freed up France's fashionable future.


As French travel and trade became safe and politically correct once again, this change to more glamour and frippery would continue to increase. The ever-turning wheels of fashion evolution were once again in motion. As we venture into the 1820's, we'll begin to see an age where the hair accessory is king (queen?) and The Fall of the Empire Waistline (insert thunderclap).

Sunday, June 10, 2012


From the best source ever
This week, I'm hopping into my barouche and hitting the road. Unfortunately, this means I'll have to postpone the Decade Wednesday post on 1810-1820 until next week. In lieu of Decade Wednesday, here are a few gifts from around the internet:

My new obsession, Sense and Sensibility: The Musical. I love "If I Could," a clever, beautiful duet between Elinor and Edward.

It's not exactly polite or ladylike, but this database of Victorian crimes and criminals never ceases to entertain my macabre, Dickens-loving side.

I love looking through pictures of The Gatsby Summer Afternoon, an annual 1920's themed picnic held by the Art Deco Society of California. I want to go!

I can't stop watching this hilarious Jane Austen parody of the Old Spice Commercial. It's made even better after watching Job Hunters, a web series in which dear Mr. Tilney plays an unexpectedly lovable serial killer.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Regency Ladies did Vintage, Too- the 1800's

The year 1800 saw the turn of a new century, along with the aftermath of the radical changes that took place during the 1790's. In 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte staged a coup d'etat and established himself as the head of government in war-torn France. Pope Pius VI died as a near-hostage to the French, leaving the papal tiara in their possession. Because of this, Pope Pius VII was crowned in Venice in 1800 with a papier-mache model of the original tiara in a crowning moment of sartorial grandeur. In Britain, Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger and Parliament passed the Union With Ireland Act of 1800, uniting Great Britain with Ireland. In the United States, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams ran in a bitter, heated campaign filled with slander and ad hominem attacks on both sides.

In the 1800's, the changes that took place in the 1790's began to slowly evolve into something new, something subtly different. The fashion of the era reflects this.

Evening fashions as they stood at the beginning of the decade.

Though the empire waistlines remained popular, a few things subtly changed over the course of the 1800's. As the decade wore on, brighter, bolder colors came more into fashion, as well as jewelry and other ornamentation.
Longer sleeves came into fashion, which for evening wear meant sheer, white sleeves attached to the more colorful, short-sleeved gowns. And yes, fellow 1995 Pride and Prejudice fans who can quote the Mrs. Bennet line about Aunt Gardiner bringing the fashion of long sleeves to Hertfordshire, I'm talking to you.

This picture isn't even from that scene, I just find it hilarious.

A trend that started in the 1790's and continued into the early part of the 1800's was modeling one's hair and wardrobe after ancient Greek and Roman statues (Here's a great article about neoclassic hairstyles and accessories).

A sculpture from about 300 BC sporting an empire waistline characteristic of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
 A portrait from 1800.
The Gothic romance and neoclassicism of the 1790's faded as the 1800's went on. Brighter colors, silks, and jewelry came back into fashion. Earrings seemed to resurface near the middle of the decade. Coral necklaces were a popular accessory of the time (another great JaneAustensWorld article on those here) and stayed in fashion for several years.

A portrait of a woman wearing what looks like a late-decade morning dress. Featuring a coral necklace, earrings, and a gold headband of some sort, as well as some colorful shawls and long sleeves. She looks like she's holding colored gloves. Source.

One last scrap of neoclassic style was found in the tightly coiled coiffures of ladies of the highest fashion- but this time it was more Roman-inspired, with tight, controlled curls rather than the loose, romantic styles of the Greeks.

Louisa Hurst giving an example of a Roman-inspired hairstyle, with bright colors, jewels, and feathers to boot.
As the Regency Era continues (or rather, officially starts in 1811), we'll begin to see what I'd call (from my rather surface-y research into next week) "The Age of the Accessory." After 1810, jewelry and hair accessories continue to rise in popularity and trims become more elaborate as we venture into the 19th century and leave every memory of the 1700s well and truly behind. At least where fashion is concerned.

I couldn't really fit this into the post anywhere, but it was too great not to include. Happy Wednesday, kids.