Fashions from December and January

  What might Jane Austen have been reading to while away a dull moment? We know she enjoyed novel reading. Regency ladies also had magazines specially written for them. The Lady’s Monthly Museum (LMM), first published in 1798, was written and edited by a ‘Society of Ladies.’ A ‘Polite Repository of Amusement and Instruction,’ it aimed to ‘please the Fancy, interest the Mind, or exalt the Character of the British Fair.’ The magazine contained moral essays and biographical pieces on famous women such as the actress Dorothy Jordan; it even had an agony aunt. And, of course, the LMM contained fashion plates with the latest modes. You can find out more about the LMM and its fair rivals in Sue Wilkes's feature article for Jane Austen's Regency World . The following fashion plates, from a monthly feature entitled "The Cabinet of Fashion"show different styles of winter wear favored by society ladies. The Cabinet of Fashion also noted "General Observations on the Fashions", describing new styles seen on display at different venues and gatherings. Cabinet of Fashion: December 1805 From The Lady’s Monthly Museum Walking Dress A Straw Gipsey Hat, trimmed with French Gray. Morning Dress, Spotted Muslin. Habit Shirt of the same. Cloak of Black Velvet, trimmed with Deep Lace. Swandown Muff and Buff Gloves. Buff Boots. Full Dress Evening Dress of White Satin, Silver Tassels. Crimson Shawl, tied close round the Neck. Deep White Lace Veil. White Muff and Gloves. Cabinet of Fashion: January 1808 From The Lady's Monthly Museum Walking Dress A Scarlet Kerseymere Cloak. A Bonnet of the same, trimmed round with White Swansdown. Dress of White Cambric, richly worked round the Bottom. Buff Gloves. Full Dress White Sarsnet Dress, ornamented with embroidery. A clear Leno Apron, trimmed with a plain Gold Cord. Hair fashionably dressed, with a Wreath. White Kid Gloves and Shoes. General Observations on the Fashions for January The Hair continues to be worn with little Variation from the Style of the preceding Month; it is drawn in a plain Band across the Forehead, and fastened on one side with a single Gold Comb, from which the Ends descend in light and tasteful Ringlets; the only Ornaments worn on the Head are embroidered Handkerchiefs, of coloured Net, which are most elegant in Gold; these are arranged according to the Fancy of the Wearer, and particular Contour of Feature--The prevailing Colours are Amber, Orange, Pink, and Crimson. The Robe, in full Dress, is chiefly composed of Muslin, with White Satin trimming. In walking Dresses, coloured Muslin, with embroidered Borders, are most fashionable; the Sleeves are made very full on the Shoulder, and high across the Boson, with a Chemisette vandyked round the Throat. The Ornaments most prevalent are, Cornelian, Agate, or Egyptian Pebble, Beads, with Broaches to correspond: earrings of small coloured Beads, twisted in a large Ring, are very beautiful. Shoes of Black Velvet, with coloured Binding, are the newest Mode, which are chiefly made to tie high on the Instep.Pelisses, or Mantles of Scarlet Cloth, trimmed with broad Fur, and Turban Caps of the same Materials, have a rich and seasonable Appearance; they are made with pointed Capes descending from the Collar. Evening Mantles, instead of Fur, have a rich Border of Black Velvet, embroidered in Devices.  
Sue Wilkes is the author of Regency Cheshire (Robert Hale, 2009). Her new book, The Children History Forgot, which looks at the lives of Georgian and Victorian child workers, will be published in 2011 by Robert Hale'. Enjoyed this article? Visit our giftshop and escape to the world of Jane Austen for costume, patterns and more.

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