January Fashion Plates: 1821 & 1824

Today’s fashion plate choices for January are chosen from later in the Regency Era. Notice how far the waist fell from 1821 to 1824, as well as the increased puffiness of the sleeves at the shoulders. In both plates, the bonnets are much larger than typically seen during the earlier years of the Regency.

Promenade Dress from January 1821—

Fashion plate, hand-colored aquatint from Rudolph Ackermann’s “Repository of Arts”, Series 2, Volume XI, Plate 4, No. 61, 1 January 1821.

The illustration depicts a woman wearing what is labeled a “promenade dress” and a large bonnet. She stands beside a foot stool, upon which is draped presumably a shawl with a pretty pink trim, and she is holding a big ermine muff with a pink ribbon bow in one gloved hand. This is an interesting fashion plate and accompanying description as it precisely details both a gown and a pelisse, yet the dress is not visible under the pelisse as far as I can tell. The ensemble is finished with a gold necklace that has an opera glass attached and hanging below her waist, and black leather half-boots are seen on her feet.

Original 1821 description from page 61:

“A high gown composed of poplin, of a colour between a ruby and geranium: the bottom of the skirt is trimmed with a very broad fulness of gros de Naples, to correspond in colour with the dress; this is finished at each edge with a chain trimming composed of plaited gros de Naples. The body is tight to the shape: the long sleeve is rather straight; it falls a good deal over the hand, and is finished at the bottom to correspond with the skirt, but the trimming is not more than a third of the width. The epaulette consists of three full puffs formed by a chain trimming which goes round them. Plain high collar, finished at the edge by a chain.

“The pelisse corresponds in colour with the gown; it is lined with white sarsnet: the body is made tights to the shape; the waist about the same length as last month; and the sleeve tight. The trimming of the pelisse is a beautiful new material, which has been but just invented: it is exceedingly light and rich; and is simply disposed in a Rouleau, which goes all round. The pelisse wraps very much to one side. High collar, which forms at once a collar and a small pelerine.

“Head-dress, a bonnet made of the silk called du cape; it corresponds in colour with the pelisse: the crown is made moderately high; it is finished with ornaments some – what resembling leaves, which go half way across it; they are edged with pluche de soie: the brim is very wide across the forehead, and is a little pointed in front; it slopes gradually down at the sides, and nearly meets under the chin; it is lined with white satin: a row of pluche de soie is attached to the edge of the brim, and another is laid on at a little distance from the first; a row also encircles the bottom of the crown, and a bunch of damask roses is placed in front: strings to correspond tie it under the chin. Ermine muff; black leather half-boots, and Limerick gloves.”

NOTE: Gros de Naples is defined as “A corded Italian silk similar to Irish poplin.” Rouleau, or rouleaux, are thin, bias-cut strips of fabric sewn into tubes. Pluche de soie is a trim of silk made to imitate feathers.

NOTE: Limerick gloves were popular in the 19th century. These were gloves made of pale yellow leather so thin that a pair could be folded up and placed inside a walnut shell – a dainty gift for a one’s ladylove. These are usually called “chicken skin” gloves, oddly as they were actually made from the skins of unborn calves. The hand-stitching was usually about thirty-two stitches to the inch, an incredibly exacting work for a seamstress.

Morning Dress from January 1824—

Fashion plate, hand-colored aquatint from Rudolph Ackermann’s “Repository of Arts”, Series 3, Vol. III, Plate 4, No. 13, January 1, 1824.

Depicts woman in a long green dress holding gold chain and reading a book while sitting on a divan decorated with a fur throw. Rounded neckline ornamented with white ruffle. Long sleeve trimmed with buttons and a white ruffle at the wrist. A ruched green bodice and empire waistline flows down into a floor length skirt. The skirt is ornamented with six rows of bunched satin. The bonnet headdress is ornamented with pink ribbon and bows and white lace. She has pink bow on either side of her hair and the back of the bonnet comes down the side of her face onto the bodice and her shoulder. She holds a gold chain with a cross. White stockings and yellow slippers.

Original 1824 description:

“Twilled sarsnet or levantine high dress, or a deep green colour, called by the French eau de Nil: the corsage fastens behind with hooks and eyes; is made to fit the shape, and ornamented with perpendicular wadded satin rouleaus of the same colour and equidistant: broad satin ceinture, with a uniform rosette behind. Long tight sleeve, edged with satin at the wrist, and fastened with a satin band, the outer part formed into a diamond, with a wadded knot in the centre. Short full upper sleeve, confined by satin rouleaus placed longitudinally, and supported with satin knots. The bottom of the dress has six wadded satin rouleaus, each headed with a narrow piping formed into waves or festoons, and supported with wadded satin knots; beneath is a broad satin hem: richly worked collerette and ruffles. Bonnet de jolie femme of British Mechlin lace; long strings of the same, trimmed with lace like the borders, which are drawn very full at the sides, where a bow of pink gauze ribbon is introduced beneath the cap, being of one piece of lace. The head-piece is formed by two drawings, and ties behind with pink satin ribbon: three separate bows or puffings of broad shades pink gauze ribbon are placed in front. Embossed gold ear-rings, chain, and cross. Buff-colour Morocco shoes, tied with ribbon of the same colour.”

SARSNET – A thin twilled fabric which uses different colors in the warp and weft, thus allowing the fabric to subtly change colors as it moves. Though it is sometimes spelled sarsenet or sarcenet, the fashion magazines of the Regency period almost always use the spelling sarsnet.

LEVANTINE: A twilled sarcenet; A rich faced, stout twilled silk.

NOTES: Ceinture is a tight belt or sash. Mechlin lace or Point de Malines is an old bobbin lace, one of the best known Flemish laces, originally produced in Mechelen. Worn primarily during summer, it is fine, transparent, and looks best when worn over another color. Bonnet de jolie femme translates roughly to “bonnet for pretty woman.”



Sharon Lathan

Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga, a ten-volume sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

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