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|Reticules and pockets
Written by JulieW
(2/25/2005 8:19 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, First aid kit, penned by Barbara
While a Regency lady might not have our modern encumbrances –mobile phone, palm pilot etc., etc. I think a sensible woman would equip herself for the emergencies of life.
I’m not sure it was “expected”: but I am sure most women carried around with them small items they considered necessities.
She would probably carry an etui, containing small scissors ,needles , threads etc; some smelling slats in a vinagrette; an ivory note pad with a graphite pencil…and obviously, court plaister.
One thing puzzles me about Emma, however. In Chapter 40 she says this:
"My dearest Harriet!" cried Emma, putting her hand before her face, and jumping up, "you make me more ashamed
Pockets were worn throughout the 18th century, under women’s dresses. “Lucy Locket Lost her Pocket”, remember…;-) However when the “ empire “ line dresses were introduced the wearing of pockets stooped and women took to using reticules: look at this from The History of Underclothes by C.Willett and Phillis Cunnington:
The former device of a detached pocket hung round the waist under the skirt became impracticable with the scanty dresses of the period(1791-1820),and so they became replaced by the handbag or “reticule” commonly called a “ridicule”. An observer in 1805 remarked that it was out of the question for ladies to wear pockets .When in a novel of 1817, a countrified lady admits to having a pocket it provided the comment:” Your pocket ,Madam! Do you wear a pocket?” Absolutely”, tittered a lady behind her chair ,”She confesses to wearing pockets”
(The novel in question is Six Weeks at Longs by E S Barrett )
So…is this another example of Emma being old fashioned, and clinging to old customs, as is her father’s habit? Was JA showing her provincial taste by allowing Emma to wear a pocket in 1813/4 ?I honestly don’t know.
Perhaps it was acceptable to wear a pocket in the country, under a sturdy dark cotton dress, but not when wearing a fine muslin? I am not really sure.
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