Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Galerie des Modes, 39e Cahier, 2e Figure

Boston MFA 44.1533
Round Cap with two rows of Linen [ruffles] with wide hems, streaked ribbon
Round Cap with two rows of Linen [ruffles] with wide hems, ribbon tied in a bow, with a kerchief à la Marmotte
Round Dormeuse Cap or morning coiffure
Baigneuse of a new taste called the Galant Negligé

Peasant cornette
Cap à la Pierrot
Cap à la Gertrude
Cap à la Laitière*

* milkmaid

Cap à la Reisser
Cap à la Lyonnaise
Cap à l'Enfant
Cap à l'Enfant

Cap à la Cauchoise
Cap à la Jeannot
Cap à la Picarde
Cap à l'Insurgente (1783)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Galerie des Modes, 39e Cahier, 1ere Figure

Boston MFA 44.1532
Galant hat with a kerchief à la Mirza
Hat of a new taste called à la St. Leger in the comté of Chiny
New hat called à la Longwi, near Luxembourg
Hat à la Granville in the Duchy of Bar

Hat à l'Augustine
Hat à l'Epernaise, a province of Champagne
Hat à la Berthelot,* otherwise called à la Comtoise
Hat à la Jeannot of the Varietés Amusants**

* Possibly for Jeanne Agnès Berthelot de Pléneuf, marquise of Prie
** Jeannot was a play which premiered in 1780, by Beaunoir (Alexandre-Louis-Bertrand Ronineau)

Hat à la Napolitaine
The same Hat seen from the front
Hat à l'Alexandrine
Hat à l'Amazone

Straw hat called à la Bergère*
Hat à l'Irlandaise
Hat à la Colinette galante
Hat à l'Anglomane** (1783)

* Shepherdess
** One who has "Anglomania"

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Modern Style: Simplicity 3673

Modern Style is the title I gave to my Pinterest board intended to help me build up my wardrobe, which is kind of funny as most of the patterns are either vintage reprints or designed in a retro look. But the board is for everyday 21st century life, so.

I started the board and the plan to revamp my dress in a retro style at a time when I thought I was going to have the perfect job for my skills and interests, and when that fell through I dropped the revamping. My part-time job didn't pay enough, and anyway you don't care too much about looking nice when you're icing cakes and bagging bread as quickly as possible - skirts, tights, and decent shoes are not what you want to wear in that situation. I did most of Simplicity 3673 while waiting to hear back on the job: I found out that I didn't get it before hemming it or putting in the zipper, so ... that's how it stayed for over a month. It wasn't until I got settled in and set up my sewing area and then worked for a couple of weeks so that I was a bit tired of the pieces I've been wearing for years that I went back to it.

Now that's a Photoshopped waist
I picked up the pattern in Joanns during one of those sales and went, "Ha, they're really trying to get the Mad Men fans with this one" - and then took it, because a high waistline is flattering for me. The dress is also plain enough that I was able to see myself both sewing and wearing it, even though this was before my realization that I wanted a vintage-inspired work wardrobe.

Here's my version, bathroom-style:

A friend on Facebook remarked that I looked like Belle, which I think is awesome
The fabric is a vintage wool suiting I picked up in the local sewing shop, lined in the bodice with light blue cotton lawn. The selvage is woven with "100% WOOL MADE IN ENGLAND" in yellow, which you only see inside the kick pleat.

The only changes I made were to change the gathering under the bust to pleats, since the wool is pretty heavy. For fit, I left the darts alone and took it in at the side seams of the skirt just a bit. I always cut out a 14 despite being between 16 and 18 by pattern company standards, which generally takes care of the ease issues.

The original pattern, ca. 1960, from PatternGate
Back when I was planning to overhaul my look, I decided that I needed proper underclothing to get a really authentic appearance. And while I often fail, I always want to get the most authentic appearance. So I bought a Rago girdle (I haaaaate the word girdle) from Secrets in Lace and two pairs of stockings, the Jana in grey and the Dana in black. It's all been sitting in the dresser because it's been too cold for sheer stockings and I found out the hard way that you don't want to wear tights over boned shapewear, but when I was fitting this dress, I made it to go over the Rago, and it doesn't look well at all without it. Not to sound too impressed with myself, but it does look pretty good with it, yeah?

(It lowers my waist to a borderline normal level, which I find really wonderful.)

I wore it with the Dana stockings, which are unshaped and pretty stretchy. Not as authentic as the shaped ones, but those are really baggy around my ankles. Even I must make allowances for looks over authenticity sometimes.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

War & Peace; or, What Happened During the Napoleonic Wars? (HSM #4)

The idea that English and French dress diverged because communications were disturbed due to the conflict between the two countries is very common. In actual fact, the fashion of this period did see lines drawn along national lines, but not out of necessity. Let's start at the beginning.

Was there a distinct difference between English and French fashions during the period of the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815)? A qualified yes.

That there was a difference in women's styles is fairly apparent with a close look, whether it's through fashion plates:

the French Journal des Dames et des Modes, 1807; the English La Belle Assemblée, 1807
or portraiture:

"Félicité-Louise-Julie-Constance de Durfort", 1808; "Princess Amelia", ca. 1807
or extant garments.

Evening dress, French, ca. 1805; wedding dress, English, ca. 1807
French (and American) fashion left the purely Neoclassical influence behind in the first few years of the new century. The train was dropped in morning dress, then in evening dress; full sleeves became common from 1804; slightly shorter skirts were cut to gather at the center of the back and stand away from the body at the ankle. More strictly-regimented curls imitated Renaissance and Baroque styles, not to mention Chinese ones.

Meanwhile, English art and extant pieces show that the Greek sensibility persisted for some time, with fitted sleeves and long skirts. The train persisted in full and half dress until about 1814, but its impracticality made it disappear from ordinary dress around the same time that it did everywhere else. The trained skirts were often gored, but overall the desired silhouette in England had a narrow, clinging skirt with little or no flare at the hem: the morning dress shown in Patterns of Fashion I is a good example, with the center back closure that indicates its making in 1804 or later, but a straight-cut skirt with the fullness evenly distributed around it. Another, later evening dress in The Cut of Women's Clothes has only the slightest amount of shaping in the skirt, although the gathering is concentrated in the back panels. By 1812-1813, though, the two different traditions had mostly merged, or rather - English fashion plates, portraits, and actual dress bowed to pressure and began to conform to the styles that French and American women had been wearing, despite the continuing hostilities.

This difference was not due to disturbed communications. Throughout the period of the wars, the British fashion press was well able to get hold of copies of French magazines like the Journal des Dames et des Modes. French plates would be reproduced, sometimes as "Parisian Evening Dress", "Parisian Walking Dress", etc., and while some were reprinted in Britain almost a year later, others were shown just months after having been first printed in Paris.

Cashmere evening dress, JDM, 1809; "evening shawl dress", LBA, 1810
(You can generally tell when an English plate is a copy by the poses, if you don't know the original. The artists for Journal des Dames et des Modes made frequent use of croquis to allow the figure to be more easily drawn beneath the gown, and the poses are not ones that appear in the English magazines otherwise.)

The difference was also limited. While the anti-French-fashion rhetoric detailed in The Failed Blockade: Sartorial Interchange during the Napoleonic Wars was very likely exaggerated in its outrage, it was also likely inspired by actual importation of fuller sleeves, shorter skirts, and Renaissance-inspired elements into Englishwomen's dress. Both La Belle Assemblée and Ackermann's Repository were in agreement on the matter, as were portraits of wealthy and influential women - retaining the styles internationally popular before war broke out was not only acceptable but preferable - but the actual fashion texts referenced France repeatedly (even in the title of La Belle Assemblée!) because that country was still seen as the home of fashion. Patriotism could be a persuasive force, but it couldn't completely overwhelm decades of tradition that France was to be looked to for fashion leadership.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Galerie des Modes, 38e Cahier, 5e Figure

Boston MFA 44.1530
Coiffure called "à la Lévite": the front frizzed, with rolled curls all around and four baton-curls behind; loose curls on the side. (1781)