Afternoon Dress, August 1798

Gallery of Fashion, August 1798.

“Afternoon Dress.”

This is another example of extremely fancy dresses for afternoon found in this high-end magazine. Satin cap, taffeta dress, silver lace trimming, diamond fastenings — all of that seems more appropriate for an evening dress. But, as always with the Gallery of Fashion, we must remember its exclusive, wealthy audience, whose afternoon events were likely more lavish than those of ordinary folk.

I’m not sure why the hat is called Chinese in the description. This shape of the hat is more typically called a Polish hat or cap, patterned after the high four-cornered cap of the Polish lancers. The dress, where the decoration at the hemlines is painted and not embroidered, is perhaps made of imported Chinese painted silk taffeta, which generally came from Guangzhou. The import of painted Chinese silks from the mid-18th century onward was encouraged by the popularity of Chinoiserie design in England and Europe. So perhaps the fabric is why the dress is called a “Chinese dress.”

The print is descried in the magazine as follows:

“The front hair cut short and combed straight, the hind hair turned up in loops, party of which are brought round the toupee. Chinese bonnet of purple satin, trimmed with a broad rich silver band, finished in the front with silver cords and tassels; large silver tassel on the top of the crown. Chinese dress of white taffeta, with a rich painted border in colours; the trimming round the neck and the belt of silver lace; fastened upon the breast, and the front of the mantle skirt, with diamond studs. Long pearl ear-rings. Necklace of pearl and purple beads. White gloves and shoes.”

Related Regency World Articles: