Opera Dresses, May 1796

Gallery of Fashion, May 1796.

“Evening Dresses for the Opera and Concerts.”

Dresses worn at the opera or a concert generally fall into the Half Dress category. These are such fine dresses, all worn with diamonds, that perhaps they would have been deemed Half Full Dress. Or, considering the elite, wealthy audience for this magazine, perhaps such fine dresses and diamond jewelry would have been typical for the opera or a concert.

Two of the dresses are partially made of tiffany, which was a transparent silk gauze. I love that the plumes on the right figure, half green and half white, are called “party-coloured.”

All the jewelry and hair ornaments as well as the silver embroidery are painted in bright gold or silver metallic paint.

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

“Fig. XCVI. The hair combed plain round the face; two white bands mixed with the curls of the toupee; the curls dressed very tight and smooth, the hind hair turned up short and plain. Small yeoman hat of blue satin, lined with white, and a gold band round the crown; two white ostrich feathers on the left side near the front, fixed with a gold pin, the head representing the Prince’s crest [ie the Prince of Wales]. Pearl necklace and gold ear-rings.

“Fig. XCVII. The hair combed straight round the face; the hind hair turned up in three short loops, returned in ringlets, and crossed with two gold bands. Diamond bandeau and diamond pin on the right side; and on the left a wreath of green leaves intermixed with the hair; two white ostrich feathers in the front. Petticoat of light blue tiffany; body of the same, with short sleeves trimmed with lace. Plaiting of broad lace round the neck. Upper petticoat of white crape, spotted with white satin in chénilles; robe of the same, spotted in the same manner; the whole Vandyke scolloped. Diamond ear-rings, girdle, and clasps. Pearl necklace. White gloves and shoes, richly embroidered in silver.

“Fig. XCVIII. The hair combed plain round the face. Chiffonet of silver muslin, the end trimmed with a silver fringe; the hind hair turned up in two loops; silver bandeau on the left side, and on the right a wreath of honeysuckle silver flowers. Three party-coloured green and white ostrich feathers in the front. Petticoat of white tiffany with a rich embroidered border; white satin body, embroidered in silver round the neck. Robe of salmon-coloured tiffany; short sleeves; épaulettes, cuffs, and binding of green satin. Full plaiting of broad blonde round the neck. Silk cord and tassels round the waist. Diamond ear-rings. White gloves and shoes.”

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