Full Dress and Walking Dress, February 1807

La Belle Assemblée, February 1807.

“A Full Dress, the Roxborough Jacket, Engraven by favor of Her Grace from the Original. A New Spencer Walking Dress with the Incognita Hat worn by Miss Duncan in the New Opera.”

In the early years of this magazine, the fashion prints often depicted dresses worn by named ladies, as here: the Duchess of Roxborough (variously spelled), wife of a Scottish peer, and the actress and singer Miss Maria Duncan, famous for her Scottish ballads.

This is one of the only times I have seen jewelry made of hair mentioned in fashion print descriptions. The lady in full dress can be seen wearing “an armlet of hair, in the new patent plait.” Intricate woven, or plaited, hair was done by jewelers using braiding tables. Or, if the braiding is simple, a lady might purchase a bracelet clasp from a jeweler and braid the hair herself. You can see woven hair in this article on lace pins.

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

“No. 1.–A NEW SPENSER WALKING DRESS. Incognita hat of French grey, or pigeon’s wing, formed of sarsnet, velvet, or the Georgiana cloth. Tassels and trimming of chenille, velvet, or Trafalgar, contrasted agreeably to the taste of the wearer. A Tuscan spenser, the same colour, formed with a round lappel, continued from the back, and round the bosom on one side, with a full flowing robin on the other; descending a little below the knee, and terminated with a rich tassel. A chemisette, with high standing collar, fastened with a brooch at the throat, the whole trimmed to correspond with the hat. The hair in loose curls; gold hoop earrings; York tan gloves; and shoes the colour of the spenser. The hat, as worn by Miss Duncan, is of pink sarsnet, trimmed with black; but the colour is necessarily changed by those fair fashionables who have selected it for a walking dress, to shades of less conspicuous attraction, amidst which the most esteemed are those mentioned in the above description.

“No. 2.–FULL DRESS. A Roxborough jacket of soft white satin, flowing open in front, and down each side the figure, in regular pointed drapery. A plain full sleeve, and short jacket flaps; black and gold Turkish ribband down the back; trimming and tassels of gold. A round train dress of the finest India muslin over a satin petticoat, embroidered round the bottom, in a light pattern of gold. The hair is twisted in a fanciful form, and short corkscrew curls flowing at the temples, and in various directions from the crown of the head; a tiara of fine pearl blended with the hair, and placed rather towards the left side. One row of fine pearls forms the necklace, which is fastened in front with a diamond brooch. An armlet of hair, in the new patent plait, with a row of the finest pearl on each side; bracelets to correspond. Earrings of pearl with a diamond in the center. White satin shoes, with gold trimmings. Fan of Italian grape, with gold spangles, and devices in transparencies. French kid gloves.”

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