Early Victorian Fashion Chit Chat - March 1839 Ladies Pocket Magazine
Remarks on the Prevailing London Fashions
This is a month in which the invention of our elegantes and their dress-makers and milliners is racked for evening and ball dresses. Out-door costume presents little or no novelty, but more than usual variety, for as the season, up to the present time, has not been severe, shawls and mantelets are quite as much in favour as cloaks. When we speak of mantelets, we mean those of velvet, or else corresponding with the robe, of a large size, lined, wadded, and trimmed generally with fur, or else with velvet, if the robe is trimmed with the latter material. Some mantelets are quite of the fichu form, and very large. Shawls vary in shape; some descend in points before and behind with a pelerine that does the same; others, that also descend in points, are single, but very large: these latter are almost invariably bordered with fur. The materials of shawls have not varied, but velvet is more than any other in request.
No alteration whatever has taken place in the shape or size of hats or bonnets, but the trimmings afford some little variety. We now see almost as many of those ornamented with feathers or flowers, that have them placed rising from the crown, as lying on the brim; feathers are indeed in a decided majority, flowers being little used except for the interior of the brims of bonnets. Those of the cottage shape have declined in favour since last month; when adopted at all, it is only for morning neglige, and then they are trimmed with great simplicity, and generally with ribbon only. The newest style is a wreath of coques, which has somewhat the appearance of a honeycomb; it encircles the back and one side of the crown, terminating on the other in a knot formed of a full cluster of coques, from which two ends stream over the brim.
Peigniors continue their vogue in morning dress, and those of mousseline de laine have lost nothing of their attraction, but they are composed also of very expensive silks, and in some instances trimmed with velvet. One of them, that we think extremely elegant, is composed of poussiere pou de soie; the corsage is trimmed with a round falling collar of violet velvet, and made to open partially in the heart style upon the bosom. The sleeves are very wide, but the fulness is confined by deep velvet cuffs. The front of the skirt is trimmed with bands of velvet issuing from the ceinture, and descending in the form of a broken cone.
Fancy black, always in request at this season, is now more so than ever, both in dinner and evening dress. We observe in the former a number of black satin robes, trimmed in various ways with black lace and coloured velvet. Some have the lace set on round the back of the skirt, and partially raised on each side of the front, in the drapery style, either by a velvet know, or a sprig of velvet flowers. We should observe that a velvet rouleau usually heads the lace.
Pointed corsages are universally adopted in evening dress; but with regard to the upper part of the corsage, there does not appear to be any thing positively decided, for we see as many draped as plain; but we observe that those that are draped have the draperies all round the top, and much deeper than they have latterly been worn.
We may cite, among the most elegant evening dresses, those of white satin, trimmed with antique point lace flounces; and while we are on the subject, we must observe, that when this lace is employed, it is always laid on plain. As the skirts of dresses are now worn so extremely wide, the effect is very good, for if a fulness of heavy lace were added to the enormous width of the skirt, the effect would be excessively ungraceful, and the pattern of the lace lost.
Ball dress this season is of surpassing elegance. The tunic form is most prevalent. We may cite, among the most elegant, those of white crape over robes of the same material. The robe is trimmed with a single very deep flounce of lace, headed by a twisted rouleau of white and coloured satin; the tunic is bordered by a wreath of flowers, roses, blue bells, marguerites, in short any flower that the wearer chooses; they are intermingled with epis of either gold or silver. We must observe that the coloured part of the twisted rouleaux corresponds with the hue of the flowers.
The hair is very generally covered, except in ball dress; even very young married ladies adopt turbans, hats, and those historic head-dresses copied from the modes of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; these latter, which are mostly of velvet, are either toques of various forms, or small caps, placed quite at the back of the head, or else head-dresses of a form between a toque and a hat. The plumage of rare foreign bords, ostrich feathers, and, above all, diamonds and ornaments, composed of gold and jewels, are profusely employed to trim them. Fashionable colours have varied very little, but black is more prevalent in every department of the toilette.