Monday, January 4, 2010

Spring Ensemble

The bite of the wind tonight made me wish a bit for spring even though winter's barely begun--and then I found this positively primeveral ensemble.

Do you know what I love about this little outift? Other than the meticulously quited petticoat (scallops, friends--imagine stitching all those tiny scallops--not even straight lines!)? And the adorably tucked pink jacket? And the little pink-piped slippers? Alright, I love most of it. But what I love the most is how springtime fresh it is, how the pieces go together just beautifully without being matchy-matchy, and how I can really imagine an eighteenth century girl (let's be honest--no one above about 20 could pull this off with the necessary effervescence) picking it out to wear. Clearly, it would be her favorite outfit.

A couple things to notice: The short-ish petticoat. One of my costume pet-peeves is the insistance in historical novels and films that women ran about with floor-length skirts all the time. Not so at all--in fact, the late eighteenth century embraced a shorter skirt as the norm for daywear, all the better to stroll in the countryside with, my dear. (And, of course, for the lower to middling sort, skirts longer than the ankles were entirely impractical--it's annoying enough to schlep a few layers of wool to keep warm with, let alone dragging it down with a layer of mud on the hem from dragging it through the muck.) Another point to pick up is how the derriere is enhanced by that lovely layered ruffle, a nod to fashion's reorientation of panier-created fullness at the hips to false-rump fullness at the back. Simple, yet enchanting.
I imagine the wearer of this ensemble going for a jaunt in someone's garden, probably with a flirty straw hat perched on her curled hair, most certainly smelling lilacs. Where do you see her going?
Images from metmuseum.org, from the Costume Institute.

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