Fashion Plate, July 1799

Print 227-Fashionable July 1799 2.jpg

Subject

Illustration

Title

Fashion Plate, July 1799

Date

July 1799

Format

original size 7 inches x 5 inches (17.78 cm x 12.7 cm) current size 6 5/8 inches x 4 1/4 inches (15.87 cm x 10.5 cm)

Description

Fashionable Undress for July 1799

This fashion plate is a single page that once belonged to a bound volume of materials. Originally printed in The Lady’s Monthly Museum, a periodical published in London, England from 1798 to1832, this image “showed ladies and their dressmakers what fashionable society was wearing” both in London and continental Europe, particularly France. The periodical contained short essays, biographies, suggestions about etiquette, as well as hand tinted engravings of fashionable dress, although much of the fashion depicted was copied from plates previously published in other high end women’s magazines following French fashions, suggesting that this publication was perhaps less prominent than its counterparts. The volume originally measured 7 inches in height and 5 inches in width, in an effort to be convenient for women to carry in their pockets.

Historical Context

In Europe, the end of the 18th century was filled with revolutionary political turmoil, both in France in the 1790s, and England with the loss of the American colonies the decade before. The collapse of the French monarchy and the subsequent Reign of Terror influenced many Europeans to abandon the traditional dress of the bourgeoise and look for fashion inspiration from antiquity. The Neoclassical style, based on recently rediscovered Greek and Roman archaeological sites, epitomized the new ideals of the democratic governments which were being built during the post-revolutionary time frame. Draped white muslin dresses in slender silhouettes with high waists broadly interpreted the classical tunics found on excavated Roman statues from Herculaneum and Pompeii.

Fashion Depicted

The two women depicted in this fashion print are both wearing dresses known as the round gown, a dress construction that continued to develop and evolve over the mid and late 18th century. The dresses shown here are late versions of the round gown, undergoing transition with the influence of Neoclassical style commonly found between 1795 and 1800. The Neoclassical high waistline, as depicted here nestled beneath the women’s breasts, is coupled with the round gown’s voluminous skirt with gathering under the bustline. The volume of the skirt is emphasized in this image with the draped skirt flowing over the seat on the figure on the left. Round gowns often featured bare arms and utilized short sleeves as seen with the seated figure on the left. Colder temperatures and inclement weather meant that women frequently utilized shawls and cloaks for warmth, as depicted with the figure on the right.

Social Context

Etiquette rules about dress were changing in the late 18th century. An emergent middle class developed dress codes, codified in magazines like The Lady’s Monthly Museum and suggesting a hierarchical scale of dress including formal, semi-formal and casual wear. The title written below this plate, “Fashionable Undress” implies that these garments were intended to be used in casual, daytime settings at home and do not indicate that they were intended as underwear. Garment details, such as the high neckline, confirm that these dresses were meant for daytime wear, as lower necklines were indicative of formal occasions. Additionally, both women are shown with their hair covered with some form of cap, which was worn in less formal occasions during the daytime to promote cleanliness and indicate social morality.

Additional Details

There are several accessories depicted in the plate which were commonly seen during the late 18th and early 19th century and indicate the dominant Neoclassical style. The woman on the right is holding what appears to be slightly disproportionately small parasol. Parasols were often used as a fashion accessory but also provided a functional component in shading the face from the sun and keeping women’s skin pale in a Neoclassical beauty ideal. The women on the left is holding a folding paper fan, a popular ladies accessory which was de rigueur in the feminine wardrobe during the 18th century. Additionally, she is sitting on a wooden chair of Neoclassical design similar to those made by English architect, Robert Adams (1728-1792) for the Etruscan room in Osterly House in London, once owned by the fashionable Child Family and now a property of The National Trust, reinforcing the idea she followed the latest fashionable trends appearing in high society London.

The original description of these fashions is found on page 60 of the Lady’s Monthly Museum, July 1799, vol. 3. The page is labeled “Cabinet of Fashion, with Elegant Coloured Engravings.”

Plate II

First Figure. Long cambric muslin dress, drawn close round the neck, with full frill. Straw hat, of various shapes, trimmed with lilac, &c.

Second Figure. Close pink muslin robe, with long white muslin cloak trimmed with lace, and full frill round the neck. White muslin bonnet, and long veil of white lace, or muslin.

References

Bissonnette, Anne. 2010. "Tea Gown." In The Berg Companion to Fashion, by Valerie Steele. Oxford: Bloomsbury Academic. Accessed November 10, 2020. http://dx.doi.org.uri.idm.oclc.org/10.5040/9781474264716.

Edinburgh Libraries and Museums and Galleries. 2020. Fashionable undress and fashionable riding habits. Accessed November 10, 2020. https://www.capitalcollections.org.uk/view-item?i=33419&WINID=1605019789008.

Evans, Laura. 2017. Women's Hats in the 1700s. September 28. Accessed November 10, 2020. https://oureverydaylife.com/womens-hats-in-the-1700s-12409517.html.

Ingham, Erika. n.d. Fashion Plates Introduction. Accessed November 4, 2020. https://www.npg.org.uk/research/fashionplates/fashion-plates-introduction.

McNeil, Peter. 2010. "The Structure and Form of European Clothes." In Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion: West Europe, by Lise Skov, 33–38. Oxford: Berg. Accessed November 10, 2020. https://www-bloomsburyfashioncentral-com.uri.idm.oclc.org/products/berg-fashion-library/encyclopedia/berg-encyclopedia-of-world-dress-and-fashion-west-europe/the-structure-and-form-of-european-clothes.

National Portrait Gallery. n.d. The Lady's Monthly Museum. Accessed November 4, 2020. https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/person/mp160061/the-ladys-monthly-museum.

National Trust. n.d. Osterly Park and House- Features. Accessed November 4, 2020. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/osterley-park-and-house/features/the-house.

North, Susan. 2011. "From Neoclassicism to the Industrial Revolution: 1790-1860." In The Fashion Reader, edited by Linda Welters and Abby, Lillethun, 53-68. Oxford: Berg.

Rauser, Amelia. 2020. The Age of Undress: Art, Fashion, and the Classical Ideal in the 1790s. New London: Yale University Press.

Steele, Valerie. 2002. The Fan: Fashion and Femininity Unfolded. New York: Rizzoli.

Accessed through The HathiTrust, and digitised by The New York Public Library: The Lady’s Monthly Museum or Polite Repository of Amusement and Instruction: Being an assemblage of whatever can tend to please the Fancy, interest the Mind, or exalt the Character of The British Fair.

By A Society of Ladies. Vol. 3

Source

Donor: URI Purchase
Originally purchased by Mary C. Whitlock, head of the Department of Textiles and Clothing in the College of Home Economics from Collins Book Shop in Eastham, Massachusetts. This page came with several others which had all been unbound and mounted on carboard backing with glue due to the loss of their original binding.

Identifier

URI 1955.99.17

Contributor

Katy W. O'Donnell

Creator

The Lady’s Monthly Museum or Polite Repository of Amusement and Instruction: Being an assemblage of whatever can tend to please the Fancy, interest the Mind, or exalt the Character of The British Fair.

By A Society of Ladies. Vol. 3
London
Published by Verner & Hood, Dec. 1, 1799

Publisher

The Lady’s Monthly Museum or Polite Repository of Amusement and Instruction: Being an assemblage of whatever can tend to please the Fancy, interest the Mind, or exalt the Character of The British Fair.

By A Society of Ladies. Vol. 3
London
Published by Verner & Hood, Dec. 1, 1799

Relation

See Fashion Plates for June 1799, October 1799, December 1799

Medium

hand tinted copper plate engraving on paper

Collection

Citation

The Lady’s Monthly Museum or Polite Repository of Amusement and Instruction: Being an assemblage of whatever can tend to please the Fancy, interest the Mind, or exalt the Character of The British Fair. By A Society of Ladies. Vol. 3LondonPublished by Verner & Hood, Dec. 1, 1799, “Fashion Plate, July 1799,” Historic Textile and Costume Collection, accessed August 8, 2022, https://uritextilecollection.omeka.net/items/show/400.

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