Morning Dress, May 1818

Ackermann’s Repository of Arts, May 1818.

“Morning Dress”

I love this print not only because we get a glimpse of a lovely piece of Regency furniture, which Ackermann often provides in his fashion plates, but especially because of the giant hat sitting beside the woman. This was a period of enormous crowns and wide pokes. And this hat is made even larger by the addition of the huge plume. Besides its size, the hat is rather amazing because is is decorated with pieces of cork. This must have been something new, as I have not seen cork hats before 1818. And every instance of a cork hat, at least in my collection of prints, are shown with dresses designed by Miss Macdonald. In the British Lady’s Magazine, she is mentioned several times as the “inventress of the Ionian Cork Hats.”

The woman is clearly dressed for indoors, especially as she is wearing a “breakfast robe” and a “breakfast cornette.” But she is ready to head outdoors, with her huge bonnet and the shawl by her side, transforming this indoor morning dress into an outdoor morning dress.

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

“A cambric muslin slip, richly finished round the bottom of the skirt with festoons of work, surmounted by ornaments of work intermixed with lace. Over this is worn the Hesse breakfast robe, composed of jaconet muslin. The form of this robe is very novel and becoming: it is open in front; the trimming is composed of the same material, it goes round the robe, is very broad and full; the fullness is disposed in a novel style. The body is made without seam, it fits the shape exactly, and has a high standing collar. Long full sleeve, finished at the wrist by a trimming to correspond with that round the robe, and surmounted by a small epaulette of a singularly pretty shape. Breakfast cornette, composed of bobbin net; the caul is of a moderate height; the ears, which are very narrow, fasten under the chin; and it is tastefully ornamented with a bunch of flowers placed upright in front. The hair is slightly parted on the forehead, and disposed in full ringlets on the temples. Glove and shoes, white kid.

“The bonnet placed near the figure is composed of small diamonds of cork, laid one over the other; it is a French shape, the crown higher than we have lately seen; the brim is of a moderate size; the top of the crown is elegantly ornamented with a rouleau of mingled white and cork-coloured satin; the brim is also enriched with satin to correspond; it is lined with white satin, and ornamented with a superb plume of white ostrich feathers.

“We are indebted to the invention and taste of Miss Macdonald of 50, Molton-street, for both our dresses this month [including this one].”

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