Afternoon Dress, October 1797

Gallery of Fashion, October 1797.

“Afternoon Dress.”

The category of Afternoon Dress looks very different in the last years of the 18th century than those we see in later years, at least in this magazine. The dresses are much fancier. They look very much like evening dresses, and almost like Full Dress if you take into consideration how much diamond jewelry is often shown with Afternoon Dresses of the 1790s, as here. Diamonds and other gemstones (rubies, emeralds, etc) typically were not worn in the afternoon. So one has to wonder what makes this dress, for example, an Afternoon Dress.

However, we have to remember that the Gallery of Fashion was not a typical ladies’ magazine. It was very expensive (3 guineas for a 12-month subscription, roughly $310 in today’s money) , very large (full quarto size), and had a very small, very exclusive subscriber list that included the Queen, the Princess Royal, two other daughters of King George, the Duchess of York, and the Empress of Germany. So perhaps the target audience of the Gallery of Fashion would have attended late afternoon affairs that were much more elegant and exclusive than the typical ton afternoon gathering.

As is often the case with Gallery of Fashion prints, there is quite a lot of silver and gold metallic paint used here. The bandeau in her hair is striped with silver, and the diamond pins on the bandeau are rendered in a raised silver that gives it a 3-demensional effect. The trimming of the blue robe is painted in red and bright silver accents. And the circles at the ends of the belt around her waist are painted in bright metallic gold. I’m sorry none of that can be seen online, but trust me, it’s absolutely beautiful in person.  Another reason this magazine was so expensive!

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

The front of the toupee very low upon the forehead and round the face, in small flat curls and ringlets; the upper part in high classic curls, and the hind hair, and the hind hair parted in four, and turned up in braided loops and chignon. Fancy cap of blue sarcenet, ornamented with a bandeau if silver tissue riband, and a large diamond pin in the front, and one on each side. Petticoat of clear white muslin. Robe of blue sarcenet; short close sleeves; the whole trimmed with silver tissue riband embroidered in colours. Plaiting of lace round the neck. Girdle of silver tissue riband, and tied on the left side with white satin riband, the ends embroidered and fringed in silver. Diamond necklace and ear-rings. White gloves. White and silver shoes.”

Related Regency World Articles: