Posted by Jessamyn on January 30, 1998 at 23:45:28:
In response to Can anyone give this costume a more specific date?, written by Carolyn B on January 27, 1998 at 19:11:51
] I assume the drawing is a twentieth-century rendering of the costume, and the woman's hat looks more 1600s or at the latest very early 1700s to me, but what little costume expertise I have is post-US Civil War. From what you have said below, can I assume that by the early 1800s, the women (American or English) who could afford it would have specialized riding habit?
You're right, it's very early 1700s at the latest. What a peculiar garment! I think it must have been something fairly regional.
By the mid-to-late 1700s, riding habits had become so standard a part of a chic woman's wardrobe that many women had their portraits painted in them. They tend to be more classic in style than other clothes of their period, because they were based on men's clothes and built for practicality. They were usually closely fitted and the jackets were quite mannish except for the fitting--broad lapels, double-breasted, etc.
By 1796, they were so regular a part of ordinary dress that the Taylor's Complete Guide complained that "the present mode of making Riding Habits is much out of the regular method" because the waists are so short and the lapels so wide. This reference to a "regular method" certainly implies that they were pretty common.
By 1808, the Ladies Monthly Museum reported that "habits are very appropriate for travelling costume and are at this period constructed with more than usual grace."
Hope this helps--
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