The Ladies' Tea Guild

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chit-chat of November fashions from 1850

_Peterson's Magazine_, 1850.

CHIT-CHAT OF NOVEMBER FASHIONS. (Godey's Lady's Book, November 1850)

To commence with out-door dress, it will be noticed that the favorite materials for walking costumes are merino, cashmeres, and silks. The first are exquisitely fine and soft, falling to the figure ... Plain colors are most in favor, and, most of all, a new rich hue of dark brown; this is the most distingue of the multitude of shades that pile the counters of our merchants. Among them are every variety of greens, blues, crimson, corn color, purples, browns, and scarlets. The same hues are in cashmere, with the advantage of being lighter and a trifle less costly. There are several styles of trimming for these heavy materials; one very simple, alternate rows of wide and very narrow plain silk braid, or galloon. A more expensive mode is velvet of the same color as the dress, embroidered with narrow braid, which has a richer effect than embossing, and, being so heavy, is suitable for an out-door costume. Alternate folds of cashmere and satin are also very pretty, but not decidedly new. Worsted lace is also much used, and a quilling of plain or velvet ribbon is always elegant.

Figured cashmeres and mousselines are by no means in so good taste as the plain. There is always a wall-paperish effect, and especially the present season of large figures and bright colors. The principal patterns are the palm leaf, bouquet, and wreath; a few are spotted, but no checks are worn by ladies, being entirely given up to the nether integuments of the sterner sex, where they flourish in all their breadth and depth of coloring.  ...  Watered silks, being truly elegant, still are worn, and brocades, of course; the last have the same objection as the cashmere of which we have spoken.

And now for shawls, cloaks, and mantillas, of which there is an endless host to choose from. Cashmere and India shawls will, of course, always be worn by those who can afford the enormous prices; though their imitations are so excellent as scarcely to be detected. ... We should advise our lady readers, in choosing a shawl of these styles, to select a white centre, or an undecided shade, if white is objected to as easily soiled. ...  Blanket, or tartan shawls are quite as much in favor as ever; indeed, inasmuch as they are softer and finer every year, they are the more sought for. A woolen shawl of this description is indispensible to the toilet of every lady; for morning promenades, evening wraps, or traveling, they are full of comfort. The two favorite styles are the large, broad, bright-colored tartans. Worn when they first came in more than twenty years ago, as purple, black, green, and white, blue and orange, green and crimson, etc. etc. Another style are all in one color, except a narrow border; as a crimson centre, with a little white to relieve it; stone color, with a bar of orange, blue with the same, green with a stripe of crimson, etc. etc. These are, to our taste, the most preferable.

Cloaks are of velvet and cloth, principally. Merino is not worn nearly as much as in the past few seasons. The velvets are mostly trimmed with quilled velvet or satin ribbon the same shade, embroidery, embossing, or fur. The fur is decidedly the greatest novelty and the most elegant. It always gives a softness and grace to the figure. ... The loose hanging sleeves are lined with white silk or satin, and are especially becoming to a tall figure. The cloth used is a light material, known by the Parisians as "habit cloth." Stone colors, green, and brown, of different shades, are mostly worn. For one who dresses on a moderate income, we would recommend the cloth by all means, as far less costly, and often producing quite as elegant an effect. They have mostly a simple trimming of three rows of braid, the one in the centre being more than twice the width of the others. They are usually lined throughout with silk.


The Teaist said...

Imagine how costly a cashmere dress would be nowadays! Wow! :)

Steph said...

Hello! I found a few of these lovely old fashion plates at a library sale once. Oh, lucky me!

Steph said...

Sounds luxurious!

South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild said...

Yes, a cashmere dress would be really expensive these days! But remember these fashion plates are showing fashions for the upper and upper-middle classes, so all the clothes are made of fine silks and wool fabrics. The rich could afford cashmere dresses! But a cashmere dress would be nice in the winter time ...

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)