I am usually not terribly fond of turn-of-the-nineteenth-century clothing, as it compares to eighteenth-century clothing. Too delicate, too simpering. Not enough pomp and and assertiveness, a bit too feminine. Less, it seems to me, personality. Not as vivacious.
But these ethereal concoctions caught my eye. The image is nabbed from the Met's Costume Institute site, the French dresses dated to roughly 1805-1810. What a difference from the fasion of a mere twenty-five years earlier--these little lovelies wouldn't have been weighed down by heavily boned stays, padded rumps or paniers, or layers of petticoat. No, the wearers probably wore lightly boned little stays (think of the difference between a training bra and an underwire push-up and you'll have the idea of Regency stays compared to Georgian stays) over a lightweight chemise. Their hair would have been dressed softly and simply, forgoing the extravagant height and width of eighteenth-century hair excess. I imagine being doe-eyed was a requirement for wearing these, don't you?
And look at the simplicity of the design--decorated with white embroidery on white cotton. And such incredible white cotton--it looks like it's spun of air and cloud, doesn't it? Cotton was coming into its own as an inexpensive fabric after the invention of the cotton gin (before that time it was pricey--just below silk in the pecking order of fine fabric). Yet this is still fine, top-notch cotton--I wish you could find its equal today.
Could it be I've gone soft? Am developping a taste for dainty clothing?
Or perhaps I'm actually beginning to wilt from the heat and can imagine these ensembles being absolutely perfect for a summer evening? Yes, I do believe that's it.