French Evening Dress, June 1803

Journal des Dames et des Modes, Paris, June 4, 1803.

Tunique de Dentelle à Dos échancré

The white lace overdress is called a tunic, though it seems a bit long for a tunic. The detail of the lace at the hem looks quite beautiful. The overdress has a scooped back and short straight sleeves. Beneath it we can see a plain white dress with quite a long hem and a demi-train. I would guess the dress is made of white satin, as the artist, Carl Vernet, has given us a suggestion of shine.

The model wears long above-the-elbow white gloves. They would likely be white kid or silk. The gloves are not as tight as modern-day evening gloves, so they are tied at the top to keep them up.

The model is wearing a lovely blue shawl. The artist has given us a sense of movement as she flings it over her shoulder. As this magazine did not provide detailed descriptions of its fashion prints (we only have the short description below the print) we do not know the material of the shawl. As it is a June print, it would perhaps not be a wool shawl, but something lighter, like silk or cotton. The gorgeous pattern along the edges could have been either embroidered or, if cotton, printed.

One interesting detail is the very short cropped hairdo. It was known as a coiffure à la Titus and was extremely popular in Paris, though not so much in England. The Times newspaper, on April 21, 1802, noted that among Parisian women, “nearly two-thirds of the women of fashion wear their own hair or wigs à la Titus.”

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