Mourning Walking Dress, December 1818

Ackermann’s Repository of Arts, December 1818.

“Walking Dress”

This mourning ensemble honors the death of Queen Charlotte, who had died on November 17. It is full mourning, the black unrelieved save for the white ruff collar. There is mention of “white crape weepers,” which were cuffs on the sleeves, but we cannot see them in this print. “Weepers” were usually made of muslin, and were so called because one could use them to wipe one’s eyes and nose when weeping.

Though this dress represents full mourning, it also represents the very latest fashion trends: multiple flounces, bell-shaped skirt, full long sleeves, and a bonnet with an enormous brim, which is described as “moderate” in size!

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

“A round dress of black bombasine; the body is made tight to the shape and up to the throat, but without a collar; long sleeves, with white crape weepers: the skirt is finished at the bottom with a broad black crape flounce, disposed in large plaits; over this is a very narrow flounce, which is also plaited to correspond; a little above this is a third flounce, which is quilled in the middle to correspond, and the whole is surmounted by a broad band of bias crape. The spencer worn with this dress is composed of black cloth; it is cut without a seam, and ornamented with a fulness of black crape, disposed in large plaits at the bottom of the waist: a high standing collar rounded in front, made to stand out from the neck, and edged with a light trimming of black crape: long loose sleeves, finished at the hands with black crape trimming, and surmounted by epaulettes draperied with black cord and ornamented with small tassels. Head-dress, a bonnet of black crape of a moderate size; the edge of the brim is finished with a row of large hollow plaits; the crown is trimmed to correspond. A white crape frill stands up round the throat. Gloves and shoes black shamois leather.”

The following is from the section entitled General Observation on Fashion and Dress:

“The lord chamberlain’s orders for court mourning are, black bombasine, crape, long lawn, and plain muslin for dress; and dark Norwich crape for undress. These materials are adopted by all fashionable people; and the mourning dresses, of which a considerable number have been submitted to our inspection, are made as deep as possible.”

The term undress in the above statement refers to day wear. The fabrics mentioned are always used for full mourning as they had no shine or sheen.





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