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.
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The mourning for our late venerated and beloved Queen is equally deep and general: no wonder indeed that the whole English nation should be eager to pay a tribute of respect to the memory made in the robe form, of a three-quarter height, are very general for morning: they are trimmed all round with a broad border of plain muslin or long lawn, with weepers to correspond; and are worn with lawn or muslin handkerchiefs, and large mourning ruffs, which in general are rounded at the ends, and do not quite meet in front of the throat.
Black bombazine is universally worn for dinner dress, and is also adopted for social evening parties. There is a good deal of variety in the form as well as the trimmings of dinner gowns. Frocks are very general; some are cut quite low and square round the bosom, with very short sleeves, which are formed of full puffings of black crape placed between bands of bombazine. The bust is trimmed with black crape, variously disposed; but ruches, though so long worn, appear to us most prevalent. The bottoms of the skirts are always very full trimmed with black crape; some have a broad band of crape formed into bias flutings, which are placed across; others are trimmed with black crape leaves, of which there are two or three rows placed one above another. Corkscrew rolls of crape, which are very narrow, and always four or five in number, are also a favourite trimming; and we have observed several gowns trimmed extremely high with black crape tucks.
The bodies of other dresses are made partially high round the back of the neck; the back is plain, and buttons up behind with small jet buttons; the front has a little fullness at each side of the shoulder-strap; the middle of the bust is plain, and sloped gradually on each side; the waist is very short, and the bust is trimmed round with a single row of crape disposed in wolves’ teeth. Plain long sleeve, ornamented at the hand to correspond with the bust, and finished at the bottom of the skirt with a similar but broader trimming.
We recommend this dress, at least the manner in which the body part is made, to those of our fair subscribers who are of the middle age; it is at once delicate and becoming. We understand that several matronly ladies of distinction have given orders for dresses made in this style, and we shall be glad to see it generally adopted.
Black crape over black sarsnet is universally adopted for full dress. The most elegant style is that given in our print. We have, however, noticed another, which we consider as very tasteful and worthy of attention: it is a frock; the body, formed of a fullness of crape, is made to fit the shape of the bust by jet beads, which form a kind of stomacher; the back is full; the shape is formed on each side by jet beads, and it is fastened behind with small jet buttons. A short full sleeve, the fullness looped in various places by little jet ornaments. The bottom of the skirt was trimmed with a deep flounce of black crape, which was looped in the drapery style with jet ornaments, and headed by a row of small crape roses.
We understand that it is expected; dresses both of bombazine and black crape, trimmed with white crape, will be worn, particularly by young ladies. We consider this very likely, because it is still very deep mourning, though less gloomy than all black: we have not yet, however, seen any of them.
Several trimmings, composed of black crape and intermixed with scarlet, are we understand in preparation for some very dashing élégantes. This mixture of black and scarlet has of late years have been tolerated even in the deepest mourning; in our opinion it is far from appropriate: we remember upon a late ever-to-be-lamented occasion it was seldom seen, and we believe it is now likely to be confined chiefly to those ladies whom the French would style merveilleuses.
Head-dresses, both for full- and half-dress, are mostly made in white crape. Toques and turban-hats are generally adopted in the former, and caps in the latter; they are always of a round shape, and the cauls low: some have narrow borders; others have no border, but have the head-piece formed in the toque style, that is to say, disposed in very full folds: these last are always ornamented with flowers.
Toques are usually made without any other ornament than the crape tastefully disposed in front. Turban-hats are either ornamented with flowers, or if black, with jet beads. Head-dresses are at present either entirely white or entirely black; and the former, as we have just observed, are most prevalent.
Very young ladies wear jet combs, sprigs, and tiaras, in full-dress; but for dishabille, belles of all ages wear simple undress caps, which are in general muslin, long lawn not being much used.
It is almost superfluous to mention, that all ornaments for the hair &c. at present are composed of jet.
Gloves and shoes are always of black chamois leather.
A black crape dress over a black sarsnet slip: the body is cut very low and square round the bust, and is tight to the shape; it is trimmed round the bosom and the back with a rouleau of crape intermixed with jet beads: this trimming does not go round the shoulders. The bottom of the waist is finished by rounded tabs. Long sleeve, made very loose, and finished at the band by a rouleau to correspond with the bosom; the fullness of the sleeve is disposed on the shoulder in puffs, which are interspersed with jet beads, some of which also confine it across the arm: this forms a new and elegant style of half-sleeve. The bottom of the skirt is cut in broad scallops, the edges of which are ornamented with narrow black fancy trimming, and an embroidery of crape roses, with branches of crape leaves disposed between each; a second row of this trimming is laid on at a little distance from the first. The front hair is much parted on the forehead, and disposed in light loose ringlets, which fall over each ear. The hind hair is braided, and brought round the crown of the head. Head-dress, a long veil placed at the back of the head, and an elegant jet ornament, consisting of a rose and aigrette, which is also placed far back. Chamois leather gloves and shoes. Ear-rings, necklace, and cross, jet.
A round dress of black bombazine; the body is made tight to the shape and up to the throat, but without a collar; long sleeves, with white crape weepers: the skirt is finished at the bottom with a broad black crape flounce, disposed in large plaits; over this is a very narrow flounce, which is also plaited to correspond; a little above this is a third flounce, which is quilled in the middle to correspond, and the whole is surmounted by a broad band of bias crape. The spencer worn with this dress is composed of black clothing; it is cut without a seam, and ornamented with a fullness of black crape, disposed in large plaits at the bottom of the waist: a high standing collar rounded in front, made to stand out from the neck, and edged with a light trimming of black crape: long loose sleeves, finished at the hands with black crape trimming, and surmounted by epaulettes draperied with black cord and ornamented with small tassels. Head-dress, a bonnet of black crape of a moderate size; the edge of the brim is finished with a row of large hollow plaits; the crown is trimmed to correspond. A white crape frill stands up round the throat. Gloves and shoes black chamois leather.