Dinner Dress, June 1815

Dinner Dress June 1815La Belle Assemblée, June 1815.

“Afternoon Dress”

The title on the print says Afternoon Dress, whereas the description calls it a Dinner Dress. Either would classify it as Half-Dress, ie dressier than day wear but not as fancy as evening Full Dress.

As you will see below, the magazine description concentrates on an article of clothing called French braces. They seem to be a sort of criss-crossed bodice that goes over the dress. So much text is spent on describing  how French braces show off the figure to advantage, and keep everything “symmetrical,” one assumes they served as a sort of outer brassiere. But since a corset was still worn underneath, it is something of a puzzle as to how French braces worked to improve the shape.

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

“DINNER DRESS. The principal novelty of this dress consists in the improved French braces: they form the shape in the most exquisite and becoming manner, and give quite a new effect to the figure. Such of our fair readers as are adepts in the mystery of the toilet are aware how much elegance may be given to the figure by a dress cut so as to display its symmetry, and we must say that in our opinion the French braces are decidedly superior to any thing of the kind that has been introduced for setting off the shape to advantage; they gave an ease, a grace to the form, which our fair readers cannot have an adequate idea of without seeing them on. Those which we give in out Print are composed of moss silk, of a bright rose colour; they are, however, worn in all fashionable colours of the month, but they are generally made of moss silk. The lightness and richness of this elegant and delicate article, as well as its vivid and beautiful hues, render it the most appropriate material that can be used for purposes of this kind. The braces are worn over a round dress of fine India muslin, the skirt ornamented with a double row of trimming and finished in a very novel and tasteful style. The sleeve is very short and full, and the bottom of it, as well as the bosom of the dress, finished with a light and very elegant trimming. Head-dress a simply elegant cap of white lace, ornamented with French roses. White kid slippers and gloves. Necklace, earrings, and bracelets of pearl.”

Related Regency World Articles: