Riding Habit, June 1817

Journal des Dames et des Modes, Paris, June 15, 1817.

“Chapeau de paille d’Italie. Voile à l’Anglaise.”

It is unfortunate that the brief description beneath the print only describes the hat: a bonnet of Italian straw with an English veil. Bonnets of 1817 were showing huge, wide brims, but this bonnet has a less exaggerated brim. Perhaps if it was indeed meant to be worn for riding, the more fashionable gigantic brim would be a hindrance.

The costume is identifiable as a riding habit by the riding crop and the long train, used to wrap over the legs when riding side saddle. As it is June, the gray fabric is likely a fine merino or other lightweight wool. The beautifully rendered drapery suggests a fabric with some weight, not a nankin or other cotton.

The tight-fitting double-breasted habit jacket exhibits trends seen in other fashionable garments of this time, especially the very high waist, long sleeves with fuller shoulders, and the shoulder seam dropped slightly. However, the practice of adding deep and fussy flounces to dresses at this time would not be used for a habit, as excess trimming would potentially get caught up in the stirrup of saddle.

The neckcloth is tied in the manner of a gentleman’s cravat. There also appears to be a habit shirt or other type of undergarment in a red striped pattern, with a stand-up collar.

The artist’s mark is a bit difficult to read, but the style of the design suggests the artist was Horace Vernet, who produced a majority of the fashion print designs for Journal des Dames et des Modes during this period.

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