Court Dress, June 1817

La Belle Assemblée, June 1817.

“Court Dress with New Hoop.”

During the reign of George III, his Queen, Charlotte, dictated the rules for court dress, and she wanted them to be the same as when she was a young woman at the English court. The basic requirements included hoops, ostrich feathers in the hair, and lace lappets hanging down the back from the feathers. When the new narrower silhouette became the fashion in dress, Queen Charlotte still insisted on hoops for court dress. So we get these silly-looking dresses with high waists and wide hooped skirts.

But the ingenuity of Mrs. Bell comes to the rescue of ladies forced to wear hoops at court: she has invented a hoop that allows ladies to actually sit down.

This dress, though following the dictates for court dress, also shows the elements of fashionable dress for 1817. All court dresses were fancy and expensive, but here we see a lot more fussiness in the ornamentation, and the skirt flounces. There is also the very, very high waistline that was popular at the time.

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

“Full suit dress of pink satin, finished round the border with fine blond interspersed with pearls, to which are added rich cordons and embossments of white silk, in an embroidery of a novel kind, mingled with artificial flowers. Superb drapery of embroidered net, trimmed with blond of an unrivalled pattern and workmanship, and drawn up with full wreaths of artificial flowers. Train of pink satin, elegantly finished with silver lama; short sleeves of pink satin and blond, caught up to the shoulder with full blown roses. Head-dress feathers and diamonds. Diamond necklace and ear-rings. White satin shoes; and white crape fan, the outward sticks studded and fastened with diamonds.

“N.B The attention of the nobility and gentry is particularly appealed to on the newly invented Court hoop, which enables a lady to sit comfortably in a sedan, or other carriage, while the hoop is worn, with the same ease as any other garment; and by this unique and unrivalled novelty the splendor and dignity of Court costume is not only preserved, but considerably heightened.”


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