Evening Dresses, April 1808

La Belle Assemblée, April 1808.

“London Evening Dresses for March”

It is interesting to see these two dresses side-by-side, as they show two very different, but typical, styles of neckline for evening wear. Both are revealing, but the one on the right much more so. It is described as “cut so low as to exhibit much of the bust.” Indeed. It almost looks like a costume malfunction about to happen! The neckline on the left is described as a “robin front,” which was a bodice trimmed with robings (broad flat trimmings) descending from the shoulders to meet at the waist, forming a deep V. The open “Queen’s ruff” beautifully accentuates the neckline.

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

“No. 3.–AN EVENING DRESS. A round dress of satin, an apricot blossom or spring green; made a walking length, and trimmed at the feet with a deep thread lace (placed an easy fullness), or a scolloped fringe. The dress constructed high in the back, with full robin front, and plain frock sleeve. The new fan, or Queen’s ruff, of rich pointed lace, with shell scolloped edge, sloped to a point in front of the bosom, and finished with an onyx brooch; the bottom of the sleeve to correspond with the dress. Hair cropt behind, and formed à-la-rustique in front, divided in the center of the forehead, with a large onyx set in deep gold. A twisted necklace of the milk-white Bohemian pearl, linked with gold beads; bracelets and earrings of the same. Slippers of white satin or kid. trimmed with silver. Gloves of French kid, above the elbow. Opera fan of carved ivory. Angola shawl of deep amber, thrown negligently over the arm as an occasional wrap.

“No. 4–AN EVENING DRESS.  A round dress with short train, of silver buff lustre, white muslin, or violet crape, worn over white satin, finished at the feet in thick scollops, and fine silver beading; the waist and sleeves wrought in a small pattern to correspond; bosom and back cut so low as to exhibit much of the bust. A silver girdle tied in front of the waist with large cone tassels. Hair in the Parisian style, confined on the crown of the head in a tuft of full curls, formed in falling ringlets from the center of the forehead, and ornamented with a bandeau amethyst linked with gold. Necklace and bracelets of the same, with drop, or pear earrings to correspond. The broad oriental armlet, composed of dead and burnished gold. A short round Opera tippet of swansdown. Turkish slippers of figured white, or violet silk. French kid gloves, above the elbow. With this dress, a bouquet of spring flowers and myrtle has a most attractive effect.”

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