La Belle Assemblée, March 1807
It being the Lord Chamberlain’s orders that the Court mourning is to be changed on the 3rd of January to plain black silk, and grey for undress; and on the 24th to be still further changed, to black silk with coloured ribands, we have endeavoured to procure descriptions of some dresses now preparing for the change of mourning, which we flatter ourselves our fair readers will find worthy of their attention.
The first is a pelisse of fine Merino grey cloth, lined with white sarsnet; it has a plain broad back, which is finished at each side with five or six small plaits of grey satin, close to these plaits on each side, is a row of small jet buttons, which are placed at irregular distances, and are braided with black silk cord. The collar is a full rouleau of grey satin, which is entwined with black silk cord. The fronts are plain and tight to the shape. The sleeve is very long and loose. The shoulder is ornamented with a full rouleau of grey satin to correspond with the collar, it is so contrived as to stand up; the bottom of the sleeve is finished with a rouleau to correspond. The trimming which goes entirely round the pelisse, consists of a row of broad black velvet shells, edged with swansdown. This is one of the most elegant half mourning dresses that we have seen.
We have been favoured also with the sight of an evening dress composed of black velvet; it is cut down very low all round the bust, but an under body of white satin shades the neck sufficiently to prevent any indelicacy. The trimming of the bust is a row of small crape roses without leaves, of that beautiful and vivid red which we term the French rose colour. Short full white satin sleeve, over which is a small half-sleeve composed of black velvet; it is a single deep point, it comes from the back part of the shoulder to the front of the arm, and is trimmed with small roses to correspond with the bust. At the bottom of the skirt, is a deep flounce of black patent net, the edge of the which is slightly finished with rose-colour chenille; this is looped at considerable distances with single roses, which are much larger than those on the neck and sleeves; there is a narrow heading left to the flounce, the edge of which is slightly finished with chenille.
This dress, though celebrated for the latest half mourning, might also, with the greatest propriety, be worn in full dress at any time during the winter months. We must in justice to the eminent house, by whom we were flavoured with a sight of it, and the pelisse, observe that nothing can be more strikingly elegant than the former, or better calculated for grand costume.
White crape toques for evening dress are at present is considerable estimation, and are likely to continue so during the next month. Diadems of crape roses, principally white, are also much worn. The toque cap is likely to be fashionable for half dress; it is extremely novel, the lower part is a mob, the upper a low toque, with a small dome crown; it is usually ornamented with a crape flower in front; the toque part is composed of white satin, and the cornette of crape; it has a very narrow full border, and fastens with a little bow of satin riband under the chin.
Ladies’ publications such as La Belle Assemblée, Ladies Monthly Museum, Lady’s Magazine, etc. were not merely fashion-oriented. Each issue had one or two fashion prints, a portrait engraving of some celebrated person (usually a woman) and perhaps other illustrations. Ackermann’s Repository, which was for ladies and gentlemen both, also had prints of furniture, homes, inventions, etc. The remainder of the publication consisted of articles.
I am not aware of any publication that consisted only of fashion prints, although people could remove the fashion prints and have them bound up together. I have one of these myself.
Correction: The Journal des Dames et des Modes was a weekly publication and thus there were around 5-6 fashion prints per MONTH.
More commonly, people would collect individual issues and have them bound together. I have quite a few of those, occasionally with an issue or two missing. (Somebody’s dog probably ate it or something.) If these were in a Regency home, however, they would be up to a year old, which is a long time in terms of fashion.
It may seem nit-picky, but I twinge when I read a story where a lady picks up Ackermann’s and pages through the latest fashions. The latest Ackermann’s would have TWO fashion prints.
Just a friendly FYI.
In my experience, the first and second days sort of meld together. Those lost six hours from Chicago to London make you feel out of whack for awhile, no matter whether you travel economy or first class. I’ve never done first class, but if I can accumulate enough miles on my British Airways card to go business class, it’s definitely preferable to being squashed together like sardines in economy. In business class you can stretch out your legs (if you’re 5’6″ or under) and enjoy a bit of privacy in your own little cubicle. I don’t really sleep much, though. The arm rest gets in the way, especially if you try to sleep on your side. I end up tossing and turning and hoping I’m not disturbing the passenger on the other side of the divider. STILL beats coach travel out of the water, though. Even better, you get out sooner than everyone else and you fast-track through security and immigration. THAT little perk is worth its weight in platinum—I’ve spent two hours waiting to get through immigration when everyone is tired and cranky, hoping my taxi driver will still be there waiting for me when I get through.
I want to say a few words extolling the Airbus a380. This amazing plane has two boarding levels, which cuts boarding time in half. Those of us on the top level filed in through the top door; the bottom level had its own door. The lavatories are significantly larger than the tiny cubicles on most planes, and even have a little padded bench for changing baby diapers. I wonder how mothers managed to do it before now. Must have been pretty miserable.
Another perk of traveling business class is the airline lounge. You can go there and enjoy snacks, drinks, and a meal while you wait for your flight. Also television and wifi out of the madding crowds of the massive airport. And they’ll announce when your flight is boarding so you don’t risk missing it.
So, getting through immigration was a whiz, and eventually my driver found me. (How it took him so long I’ll never understand. He was supposed to look for the lady with the pink and white hair. I was the ONLY one!) Turned out he’s the same Sri Lankan driver I had last year. Still wants to match me up with a Sri Lankan. He doesn’t quite “get” that some women prefer being single. But I enjoy listening to people’s opinions, and he certainly has a lot of them.
Once I got into my flat on Crawford Street (near Baker Street in Marylebone), I fell into bed for a couple of hours. Turned on the TV and caught Prince Harry and Meghan showing off their sweet baby. Cutie pie! But I was hungry and there was no food in the flat. Also, I needed to replace the SIM card in my UK phone so I’d have a phone to use when necessary. Walked down to Oxford Street to Selfridge’s, but the Carphone Warehouse is no longer there, so I had to walk a few more blocks to find a place who could do it. While I was waiting, some customers walked off with some merchandise from the store. Something small. But it reminded me that there are pickpockets everywhere on Oxford Street. It pays to be aware of what’s going on around you.
The Bond Street Tube Station was nearby, so I took the Tube to Baker Street—after a frappuccino from Starbuck’s. I was feeling weak from hunger, and that really helped. Interestingly enough, after I got onto a train, a young man sitting in a priority seat got up and let me have his seat. Wasn’t that sweet? He said he was getting off at the next stop, but so was I. It reminded me that wherever there are thieves and villains, there are also very nice people who will give you the shirt of their back (or at least their seat on the subway).
Upon leaving Baker Street Station, I crossed the street and had some cannelloni at the Pizza Express, one of my regular places. Then I purchased some food at the Tesco Express and returned to my flat. Where the construction crew was still pounding and sawing outside my window and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Oh well. It’s not the first time I’ve had to deal with that at this flat. Do you believe this is the SIXTH time I’ve stayed here in six years?
At one point during the day I got soaked from rain, a few other times was sprinkled on, but most of the time it was pretty decent. A bit windy and chilly, but hey, it RAINS in England! No big deal.
Turning in early tonight. Sorry I won’t make it today’s tea party. Next week for sure!
The Master of Ceremonies announces a great ball to be held on Valentine’s Day in the Upper Assembly Rooms of Bath. Ladies of the highest rank—and some who wish they were—scheme, prepare, and compete to make best use of the opportunity. Dukes, earls, tradesmen, and the occasional charlatan are alert to the possibilities as the event draws nigh.
But anything can happen in the magic of music and candlelight as couples dance, flirt, and open themselves to romantic possibilities. Problems and conflict may just fade away at a Valentine’s Day Ball.
25% of proceeds benefit the Malala Fund.
by Jessica Cale
He’s a liar and a fortune-hunter… and exactly what she needs.
The moment Lady Emilia sets eyes on the Chevalier d’Aubusson, she knows their fates are tied together. For good or ill, she cannot say. A mysterious aristocrat with a tragic past, the chevalier makes waves with his considerable charm.
But the chevalier is not as he seems. There are cracks in his story, and Emilia never could resist a mystery. Whether he’s a gentleman or a bounder, he might just be the man for her.
by Sherry Ewing
It began with a memory, etched in the heart.
Lady Celia Lacey is too young for a husband, especially man-about-town Lord Adrian de Courtenay. But when she meets him at a house party, she falls in love.
Adrian finds the appealing innocent impossible to forget, though she is barely out of the schoolroom and a relative by marriage.
His sister’s deceptions bring them together, but destroys their happiness. Can they reach past the hurt to the love that still burns?
by Jude Knight
In all the assemblies and parties, no-one Charis met could ever match the beast next door.
Charis Fishingham has always felt more at home at Eastwood—Beastwood, as the neighbours called it, after the flawed child who once lived there. In the Eastwood gardens, Charis can escape her mother’s expectations, her sisters’ chatter, and her own worries about her future. There, she reads and remembers her secret friend, long gone into exile to have his birthmarks removed at his family’s command.
Now the Beast has returned. Eric Lord Wayford would rather face the surgeons of Naples and Napoleon’s armies than the tongues of the ton. He joyfully greets Charis, and their future looks to be full of hope.
But someone does not wish Charis to wed the Beast of Beastwood, and will stop at nothing to keep them apart.
by Amy Quinton
A serious-minded, scientific man of learning seeks a complex and chaotic practitioner of all things superstitious who will upend his well-ordered life.
The Umbrella Strikes Again! Another Bachelor Has Fallen!
Dr. John Edward Hartwell needs assistance, though not quite the kind of help he might think. True, he is well-organized, tidy, and pathologically set in his ways—a more serious-minded man one might never find.
But in his ways, I have determined, lies misery.
Enter Miss Emma Merryweather—a woman who is as lovely as she is chaotic. She is the perfect candidate to compliment our man of numbers and logical focus, bringing sunshine and superstition to redirect him away from a future of certain wretchedness.
And now that she has been categorically convinced that they are destined to be together—the signs, you see—no one can stand in her way, for she is as tenacious and optimistic as she is beautiful.
And none can resist her smile.
If I have anything to say about matters, and I always have something to say about matters, the signs will point the way.
They already have.
Lady Harriett Ross,
Self-proclaimed Motley Meddler * Mistress of Destiny * Wielder of the Infamous Umbrella
I’m just an old woman with opinions. On everything.
by Caroline Warfield
Doug Marsh and his candles bring light to many, none more than Esther. They may light the Assembly Rooms even as his love lights her life.
Doug Marsh knew what the army expected of him. Invalided out, he struggles to run his uncle’s candle-works and look after those dependent on it. A contract with the Bath Assembly Rooms would go a long way toward succeeding at both of those things. The plight of a young woman is a distraction he doesn’t need.
Esther Hopkins, formerly ‘the Honorable’, has no time to mourn the life denied her by a single mistake. A woman alone with a new-born son to raise needs work, and she is determined to make it on her own. If only she could stop yearning for the sturdy arms and kind blue eyes of the man who rescued her from starvation and enlisted the entire Marsh Candle Works to her support. But Sergeant Marsh shows nothing but benevolent interest in her welfare. Why should he care for a fallen woman?
In the normal course of things Esther is far above Doug’s touch. Can he find the courage to court her and still take care of business at the same time?
The Bluestocking Belles (the “BellesInBlue”) are ten very different writers united by a love of history and a history of writing about love. From sweet to steamy, from light-hearted fun to dark tortured tales full of angst, from London ballrooms to country cottages to the sultan’s seraglio, one or more of us will have a tale to suit your tastes and mood.