Historical Fashion Spring Fling!

by Linore Rose Burkard

Let’s take a look at some fabulous fashion plates from that most-regency of publications, Ackermann’s Repository.(Most of the following comes directly from my latest newsletter. If you’re not yet subscribed, sign up in seconds on my website. It’s free!)

Rudolph Ackermann’s Repository of Arts, Literature, Fashions, Manufactures, &c. was a much-enjoyed magazine for people of the regency, second only in importance to women of fashion after “La Belle Assemblee.”

With no electronic media, the fashion “plates” in these periodicals were the main source of information regarding current fashion, which spread from Paris to London and then the rest of the world, including America.

1819 Walking Dress

Above:  Walking Dress 1819. Note that each of the illustrations here are from SPRING publications of Ackermann’s for the year designated. Seems that England (or France, in some cases) must have been rather chilly, even up to June.

Walking Dress, Jaconet Muslin 1819

      Walking Dress, Jaconet Muslin (“Round Dress”) 1819

                                  Morning Dress, 1819

French 1819

                  French Dress, 1819

               1819 Evening Dress

Evening with fan

                   1819 Evening Dress




Caught all the Episodes of The Bargain




                  1829 Evening Dress

Strictly speaking, 1829 is post-Regency (George, Prince of
Wales, became Regent in 1811 and then King in 1820. Since he reigned until 1830, I include his reign in my definition of the “regency”. Society was distinct beneath his regency and reign.)

           Walking or Carriage Dress, 1829.

Muffs were popular since Georgian days. I had a fluffy white muff when I was in first grade and still remember it with fond affection. (sigh)

            English Dinner Dress 1829

The bonnets during this period were amazing concoctions, weren’t they? I saw a spoof about bonnets in an old periodical recently. I’ll have to try and dig it up. (Editorials of the day often included commentary about current fashions, and more often than not, they were critical.)

      May 1829, English Morning Dress

In some cases, morning dress seems to have referred to something a lady would wear only in her home, such as the earlier pics (above) of 1819 morning gowns. In this case, the designation of “morning” appears to mean a day-dress (walking dress) which is obviously meant for outdoors, while emphasizing that it isn’t dinner or promenade or evening attire. The head-dress is much simpler in style also.

                    1829 Dinner Dress

Notice how the 1829 fashions are almost Victorian in appearance? Think about this: Victoria didn’t take the throne until 1837–not for another 8 years! In this and the next illustration, you can clearly see that the lower waist had  returned to women’s clothing long before the young Victoria was crowned.Nevertheless, most people would look at the above and think “Victorian.” (But now you know better.) : )

                 March 1829 Opera Dress 

Hasn’t this been fun? The contrast between 1819 and 1829 fashions is very evident. It’s not always so easy to tell different decades apart!

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