Evening Mourning Dress, January 1798

Gallery of Fashion, January 1798.

“Evening Dress.”

Although this dress is not named as mourning attire in the description, the use of black gloves identifies it as a mourning dress. At this time, black gloves were almost exclusively worn for mourning. Black gloves as a fashion accessory (ie not for mourning) did not appear until the 1820s. The dress is made of striped black satin, which would not have been appropriate for deep mourning. It would have been acceptable for slight mourning or half mourning.

There does not appear to be a waist seam, belt, or sash, but only a tightening beneath the bosom and a full gathering high in the back. So there is still the empire line, but not the structure.

During these last years of the 18th century, plumes were enormously high, especially with evening wear. One has to wonder how they managed them in a carriage. The roof of some sedan chairs opened. Perhaps that was the only way to travel when wearing evening plumes.

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

“The front hair dressed very low upon the forehead; the sides cut very short and combed straight; full plain chignon. Polish cap of black velvet, trimmed with white fur, and a tassel of black bugles on the top of the crown; three rows of black bugles across the head dress, on the left side, with a tassel of the same; two large black ostrich feathers in the front. Black satin striped dress; short sleeves trimmed with black fringe; black crape trimming round the neck, looped on the shoulders, and fastened before with bugle buttons. Black necklace and ear-rings. Black gloves; and black satin shoes. Swansdown tippet.”

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