Morning Walking Dresses, August 1808

La Belle Assemblée, August 1808.

“Morning Walking Dresses”

I love these early La Belle Assemblée prints, which are often so elegant. I think these two ladies look wonderful. Note the open parasol held by the figure on the left. You can see that it is tilted slightly at the top. Many parasols of this period were hinged a few inches from the top so that they could also used as sun shades, ie tilted sideways against the face, like a fire screen. Also note the closed parasol held by the figure on the right. You can see that the handle looks much shorter than the open parasol. That is because most parasols had collapsible handles to make them easier to hold. You can also see a small loop at the top of the closed parasol. This was a wrist loop, so the wearer could hold a closed parasol on her wrist while still keeping her hands free.

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

” No. 1: A round robe of white or jonquil muslin, made a walking length; with spencer waist, and deep falling lappels, trimmed with lace’ and edged at the wrist to correspond. A bonnet of celestial blue crape, with jockey, or antique front, edged and ornamented with the shell, or honey-comb trimming, formed of the same material. Gloves and shoes of pale blue or lemon-colored kid. Necklace and bracelets of the composition pebble; and earrings of silver filligree, of the hoop form. Hair in full irregular curls. Quilted parasol of shaded silk, lined with white satin.

“No. 2: A round dress of pea-green, or lilac muslin, over a white cambric slip; a short cottage sleeve, plain back, and handkerchief front, fastened in a small tufted bow and ends at the centre of the bosom. Provincial bonnet of fine split straw, or moss straw, with band and full bow of folded sarsnet the colour of the dress, terminating in a pendent end on the left side, and finished with a correspondent tassel. A Sardinian mantle of French net, muslin, or spotted leno; the corners terminated in a full knot and end. A double high frill around the throat, edged with scalloped lace, tied in front with a ribband to suit the robe. Pale York tan gloves; shoes of pea-green and black kid’ Chinese parasol of white sarsnet.”


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