Walking Dress and Pelisse, April 1817

La Belle Assemblée, April 1817.

“Walking Dress”

Pelisses of this late Regency period are generally very high in the waist, full in the shoulder with epaulettes or other widening feature, and heavily ornamented or trimmed.

Even when the dress is barely seen beneath the pelisse, it is usually described in some detail. But here, only the fabric of the dress is mentioned, with no comment upon the ruff collar or simple flounce. Clearly, the pelisse is the star of this ensemble. Even it, though, is not described in much detail. The bottom of the print, cut off here, says the ensemble was “Invented by Mrs. Bell.” I suspect Mrs. Bell is no longer writing the magazine copy at this time. In previous years, her own designs received effusive and lengthy descriptions, full of praise for her excellent taste, and I have always suspected she wrote them herself. She is, though, mentioned in the General Observations on Fashion and Dress in this issue as having moved her studio to a more fashionable location, where “her almost unrivalled abilities in the disposal of every article of female attire will have a wider and better field for their display, and her talents become more daily appreciated as they are more generally known by those who compose the higher classes of society.” Perhaps writing magazine copy, even for her own designs, was now beneath her ambitions.

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

“Round dress of fine cambric, under a pelisse of emerald-green reps sarsnet, ornamented and faced with flutings of green and white satin, elegantly finished by British silk trimming; the waist girt by a rich silk cordon of the same manufacture, with full tassels. Spring bonnet of green curled silk, the crown and ornaments of white satin and emerald green, to correspond with the pelisse. Green satin half-boots and Limerick gloves. Berlin ridicule of green and white satin.”

From the General Observations on Fashion and Dress in this same issue:

“For carriage and outdoor costume, nothing is reckoned more elegant than the new material of British fabrication, called reps sarsent; it is a rich texture between the very fine cut velvet of the French and their Gros de Naples, but is lighter than either”.




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