Evening Mourning Dress, December 1818

La Belle Assemblée, December 1818.

Though the print is titled “Walking Dress,” that is a printing error. It is not only clearly an evening dress, but the magazine’s description names it so.

This dress represents mourning for Queen Charlotte, who had died on November 17. The Lord Chamberlain announced that full mourning for the Queen should commence on November 22. Though court mourning was strict in terms of dress, it did not preclude evening entertainments, at least for the upper classes. This dress, and others in my collection, show elegant evening dress, even in the deepest mourning. So, while the deep mourning of the dress paid homage to the deceased royal personage, in this case, the Queen, curtailing one’s aristocratic entertainments was not required.  (Although theaters were generally asked to close for a short time after the death of a member of the royal family.) A continuance of social activities would not have been the case for personal mourning, ie for a husband or child or parent. Mourning conventions at this time required women to remain relatively cloistered for months, depending upon the relationship to the deceased. Men, of course, were not so restricted in their movements while in mourning.

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

“EVENING DRESS. Andalusian robe of black crape worn over a black satin slip, ornamented at the border with crape flutings. The robe vandyked with black velvet, richly ornamented with trimming of twisted crape, down each side. The sleeves confined at the mancherons by a superb knot of jet. Henrietta ruff of white crape broad hemmed. Black velvet toque ornamented with jet, and black cypress feathers.”

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