ostentation in dress
Posted by Laura W on December 24, 1997 at 12:35:19:
In response to tying together the threads on the Corsets and Permissiveness thread, written by Caroline on December 23, 1997 at 23:12:27
] If my reading of the economics of the era are right, the wartime/Regency era is more difficult economically than before or after, and by his theory should be more ostentatious, not less so, than before or after the wars with France, and his theory doesn't hold water, either. What do the rest of you think?
I think that Regency-era dress was considerably more ostentatious than we picture it. The Grecian-goddess look came right around the turn of the century and its apogee was more in portraits than in real life (e.g., the famous portrait of Mme. Recamier), and also more in France than in England (politics). By the Regency, while the basic line of clothing remained the same, ladies' dresses were over-ornamented and clashing colors were fashionable. We think their choices of colors and ornament were tacky, so our modern Regency novels always have a heroine who goes for simple lines and colors.
Examples of ornament: the hem of the dress might have five or six rows of wide piping or festoons in a constrasting color; the bodice might be striped one way and the skirt another (or patterned); there was likely to be lace, beading, spangles, or embroidery everywhere; the slippers, headdress, and even spencer were likely to be in a contrasting color; colors in general were bright and even garish (except of course for young girls just Out).
Evening dresses in particular were ostentatious, with festoons above the hem, flowers or spangles all over, feathers in the hair, etc.
Here's an example of an evening gown, I think from Journal des Damen, probably circa 1815, and so ornate it might be a court dress rather than just a ball gown (unfortunately not in color):
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