I’ve decided on my first outfit for the Jane Austen Festival in April. I’ll be basing most of my wardrobe on fashion plates from 1815 – although I may also do a late Georgian gown for the Friday night Georgian Variety Night.
I’ve been gathering an assortment of fabrics and patterns – but really must start making something! Ackermann’s Repository features this Promenade Dress for August, 1815:
It is described as:
High Dress, with plain body, buttoned or laced behind, composed of a rich satin-striped sarsnet of celestial blue and white colour, trimmed at the feet with white satin; long loose sleeve, confined at the wrist with a fulling of tull, edged with white satin; a deep full ruff, of the French work, round the neck; a short sash of white satin ribbon, tied behind. A French bonnet composed of tull fulled in, and alternate folds of white satin; a roll of white satin, laced with tull, ornaments the edge of the bonnet; satin strings, tied under the ear. Necklace of oriental gold. Sandals crossed high up the ankle with blue ribbon. Gloves Limerick or blue kid. Parasol of the shaded silk.
Although this dress doesn’t have the wider skirt and heavily decorated hem that is becoming typical in 1815, it does have a ruff – which seems to be a requirement of outdoor wear for the fashionable lady this year!
The dress in this portrait looks quite similar, at least in the bodice, and it has a ruff, although the ruff is starched and a different construction from the Ackermann dress:
In this portrait of Eleanor, Lady Wigram, the bodice is cut lower, with the neck filled with a chemisette and a ruff which seems more like the Ackermann plate than Anna Maria Magnani’s does:
(Allen Memorial Art Museum, AMAM 1986.17)
I’ll be using a blue and white striped cotton (from Lincraft, the one in the header image) for my Promenade Dress – which probably makes it more of a rural walking dress than a fancy one for promenading in! I’ve ordered some dress patterns from Laughing Moon and La Mode Bagatelle, but they haven’t arrived yet, so I might have to adapt the Sense and Sensibility Elegant Ladies Closet wrap-dress pattern to make it a plain front and button back. Or perhaps the other patterns will arrive on Monday . . . I’m waiting for a few parcels and I’m sure the post office will have them all at once, rather than spreading out the parcel pleasure!
I haven’t quite decided what to make the ruff out of. I have some fine white cotton, which is quite sheer, so may be too light. I also have fine linen, and some other weights of cotton. If I make the ruff more like Lady Wigram’s than Anna Maria’s it won’t need to have quite as much body to it. I think. I’ll experiment tomorrow with what I have in the stash. I’m going into town on Monday so could get something else then if need be. As for lace to trim it with – I don’t happen to have any ‘French work’ handy. Maybe I’ll use a tatted edging. Maybe.
Hmmm . . . I wonder if Anna Maria isn’t smiling in that portrait because the weight of the flowers on her hat is giving her a headache? (Note to self: avoid migraines by keeping hat trimmings light!)