French Gentleman’s Skating Costume, January 1813

Le Journal des Dames et des Modes, January 31, 1813.

“Casquette de Drap. Spencer garni d’Astracan. Bottes fourrnées.”

This wonderful print is intriguing on so many levels. It is rare to see a skater in action in a fashion print. The skates alone are a fascinating bit of history, with their turned up toes and leather straps. But the outfit is simply splendid!

The whole ensemble has a very military look, from the hat, which looks like that of a Polish Lancer, to the spencer, which has the look of a Hussar uniform. The astrakhan trimming, on the boots as well as the spencer, is a nice addition for keeping warm on the ice. The high-waisted “inexpressibles” (very tight pantaloons, leaving little to the imagination!) have an embroidered or appliqued decoration at the top that is seen in several other French prints.

This print was designed by the famous French artist Horace Vernet, whose initials you can see in the bottom left corner. Note how he has even managed to depict the reflection on the ice, as well as the hint of blade marks.

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