Try this one for size..........
Posted by Caroline on October 20, 1997 at 21:59:47:
In response to those sheer, frilly lace things around their necks..., written by KellyB on October 20, 1997 at 14:32:59
Kelly, I take it that you mean those scarfy type things that Jane and Lizzy wear in P&P2? That look like a square folded diagonally, and then loosely knotted around?Those things that appear in none of the many P&P photos we have lying around here at Pemberley? If so, then hold on to your seat.These things are called.....handkerchiefs.Wierd, huh?
Jane Austen mentions them in one of her letters, dating from 1801(don't ask me which letter, because I have bits of a whole bunch of them in a costume book,and it just says, Jane Austen, Letters) Here's what she wrote, concerning a new dress she is having made.
"...The front is sloped round to the bosom and drawn in, and there is to be a frill of the same to be put on-occasionally when all one's handkerchiefs are dirty-which frill must fall back....."
Detatchable frills that could be tied round the neck, or tacked temporarily onto a gown were quite common, too.(Is this what is meant by tucking lace?) A standing lace collar, as worn by Georgiana in the London scene imagined by Lizzy, was also tacked on.The french name for these is cheruesque , but whether they were called that in England I do not know.
The older ladies, like Mrs Bennet and Mrs Gardiner wear an under-dress, or chemise, with a draw-string neck that is simply drawn up tightly, and covered by an attatched or separate collar, like a ruff.
The "shirt" that Lydia makes use of,underneath her gowns, that is rather severe, with a turned -down collar, is called a habit-shirt or chemisette. If you look in Johanne's Pages(in the links) she has a very simple drawing of one of these which is identical to Lydia's.These habit-shirts often were more ornate, with ruffles round the collar, or frills down the front.
The word "fichu" refers to the wrap of gauzy stuff that was used to fill in the dress known as a robe anglais which was around until about 1790, and went along with all those big hats in Gainsborough paintings.It was cut very low indeed, in fact it often exposed the breasts, and the "wrap" was attached by pins.I never thought that this fahion made any commonsense at all until I came across a picture of a nursing mother of the period. And I don't think there are any of these in P&P2
And after all that ramble, there is one thing I would very much like to know: How on earth did the word "Handkerchief" come to mean something round your neck, and when did it turn into a neckerchief? And what did they use for wiping their noses with?
sources: "The Cut of Women's Clothes" by Norah Waugh (see bibliography)"Working Dress" by Diana de Marley(also in bib)Johannes regency Fashion Drawings (illustrations from Janet Arnold's books)
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