Ball Dress, April 1811

Ackermann’s Repository of Arts, April 1811.

“Ball Dress”


Most dresses described as “Ball Dress” are typically shorter at the hem than other evening dresses. One has to assume that was to make it easier to dance, without tripping over one’s skirt. This dress is shown in an especially short length for the period. I suspect it was simply to show off the elegant dancing slippers. Note that they are called sandals. At this time, the term sandal simply referred to any shoe that laced up and over the ankle. They did not wear the open-toed shoes we now associate with the term sandal.

Another interesting element of this dress is the absence of a defined waistline, which is quite unusual for this period.

Usually, when we see British prints of ball dresses in movement, they have been copied from the Paris publication Journal des Dames et des Modes. That doesn’t seem to be the case here, as I can find no such print in the French magazine. So, this is the rare original British print showing a women dancing.

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

“BALL DRESS of amber-coloured crape, worn over a white slip, embroidered entirely round and up the front with a border of blended lilies and Persian roses in chenille; short sleeve; and long gloves of French kid. Neck-chain and drop if Indian gold; ear-rings to correspond. Hair in waved curls in front. White satin sandal-slippers, tied with green ribbon round the ankle. Fan of carved ivory.”

Related Regency World Articles: