Afternoon Dresses, January 1795

Gallery of Fashion, January 1795.

“Afternoon Dresses.”

This print is another example of very elegant and expensive dresses worn during the afternoon. In no other publication are Afternoon Dresses so fancy, in terms of luxurious fabrics and trimmings, and worn with diamonds and other gemstones. But as the audience for this magazine was very upscale and wealthy, perhaps this type of fancy Afternoon Dress was expected.

The left and center robes are described as Robes à la Polonaise. That style of dress, popular in the 1770s and 1780s, included the back of the skirt gathered up into three separate puffed sections to reveal the petticoat below. None of these outer robes show that style, so I’m not sure why they are described as such. Did the definition change in the 1790s?

The gold spots on the dress on the left, its gold fringe trimming, and the gold spots on the slippers are all painted in bright gold metallic paint, difficult to see online, but very shiny in person.

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

“Fig. XXXVII. The hair dressed in light curls; chignon turned up plain, and the ends returned in ringlets. Chiffonet of white satin, two white ostrich feathers and a large diamond pin placed on the left side. Lawn petticoat embroidered in gold, and trimmed with a black and gold fringe. Robe à la Polonaise of cherry-coloured satin, bound with black velvet, long sleeves; olivets [buttons shaped like olives] and chain down the back: handkerchief within the gown behind, drawn out in the front, and fastened by a belt. Three strings of beads round the neck. Diamond ear-rings. Swan-down tippet. White gloves, and white shoes, embroidered and trimmed in gold.

“Fig. XXXVIII. The toupee in light curls; plain chignon. Twisted turban of blue and white cross striped satin. One white ostrich feather placed in the front. Robe à la Polonaise, with long sleeves of sapphire blue poplin, trimmed at the wrists and at the bottom with black lace, and down the back with a black lace chain, and blue and white olivets. White lawn embroidered handkerchief. Blue fox fur tippet.

“Fig. XXXIX. The hair in light curls; chignon turned up plain. Chiffonet of white satin, the end trimmed in gold fringe, on the left side looped with a black gem netted chain. One white curled ostrich feather, the edges dyed in purple, placed on the left side, and a bunch of culture feathers spotted with chenilles in front. Plain lawn petticoat. Robe of black and pink striped satin; the long sleeves of white satin. Lawn handkerchief within the robe. Gold ear-rings.”

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