Ball Dress, September 1797

Gallery of Fashion, September 1797.

“Watering Place Ball Dress”

It is interesting to see a hat worn with a Ball Dress, especially one that looks like a day bonnet. Something like a turban would be more expected. It seems like it might be awkward to dance with a bonnet on. But perhaps because this is for a “Watering Place” ball, it would be somewhat less formal.

The hat is adorned with vulture feathers, a type of feather I have not seen before in fashion prints of the period.

The term “corset” at this time, at least in British fashion, referred to a tight-fitting bodice and not the undergarment we associate with the term. Those garments were called “stays” during this period. It is interesting that this blue “corset” is worn with a clear muslin “body,” ie bodice, over it. Must have been quite pretty in person.

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

“The hair dressed very full and high in the front, with a diamond pin placed in the center; the sides combed very flat, the hind hair turned up in several loops. White satin hat, with a very low crown, the brim very narrow before and behind, the sides very deep, in the shape of a wing; trimmed with puffs of deep lilac-coloured silk, separated by large pearls; three lilac-coloured vulture feathers in the front. Petticoat of tape-striped fine muslin, double flounced with broad lace. Blue silk corset, clear muslin chemise body over it; short sleeves, the whole trimmed very full with plaitings of lace. Gold and pearl necklace. Pearl ear-rings. White gloves and shoes.”

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