Le Corsaire 16th May 1829


The most bizarre designs are those that ladies prefer for chiffon dresses. Apart from the fact that the colours with which these fabrics are variegated stand out, there is disproportion in the size of the objects. Are these flowers? You would say old lampas for upholstery. Are these subjects? You think you see Chinese hangings.


The waistcoat used to be a sleeveless justaucorps. This name has just been given by our first tailors to a coat which has skirts; very long and square: it is made in English blue rap, and it is trimmed with yellow button and openings; the skirts join without any notch.

There is a large selection of these light fabrics, at Ozaneaux, tailor, Palais-Royal, n. 169, next to the Valois café.

The shape of the men’s hats is slightly flared at the top, and the edges very raised in a roll. The Corderant stores, located rue Coquilliere, n. 43 to the first, are always the first provided with the most recent varieties of fashion, and moreover, the prices are very moderate, which does not prevent the quality of its felts from being perfect.

Les dessins les plus bizarres sont ceux que les dames preferent pour les robes de mousseline. Outre que les couleur, don’t ces etoffes sont bariolees, tranchent, il y a de la disproportion dans la grandeur des objets. Sont-ce des fleurs? Vous diriez d’ancien lampas pour meubles. Sont-ce des sujets? Vous croyez voir des tentures chinoises.


La soubrevest etait jadis un justaucorps sans manches. Ce nom vient d’etre donne par nos premiers tailleurs a un habit qui a des basque; tres-longues et quarrees: on le fait end rap bleu-anglais, et on le garnit de boutons jaunes, ouvrages; les basques se joignent sans aucun cran, sur la poitrine.

On trouve un grand choix de ces etoffes legeres, chez Ozaneaux, tailleur, Palais-Royal, n. 169, A cote du café Valois.

La forme des chapeaux d’homme est legerement evasee par le haut, et les rebords tres-releves en rouleau. Les magasins de Corderant, situes rue Coquilliere, n. 43 au premier, sont toujours les premiers pourvus des plus recentes varieties de la mode, et de plus, les prix sont tres-moderes, ce qui n’empeche pas que la qualite de ses feutres son parfait.

Le Corsaire

Mantua Makers and the rise of the Female Dressmaker

When thinking of 18th-century clothing, images immediately come to mind of opulent silk gowns worn over panniers, heavily trimmed and embroidered. Such gowns were the work of female mantua makers and seamstresses. For the first time in European history, women were making outer garments as part of a legal guild, but the story of how that came to be is not exactly straight-forward. The origins of such gowns can, in fact, be traced back to Japan.

Japanese trade with Portugal and Holland

A Japanese painted screen by Kanō Naizen showing a Portuguese carrack ship and traders. (Kobe City Museum, Japan)

The Japanese Kimono (the word literally translated means ‘clothing’) is a T-shaped garment with a relatively simple cut and construction, those of higher status showing off sumptuous fabrics and embroidery. Those of the Edo period, with which we are concerned, saw a great deal of innovation in the fabrics and decorative techniques, while the silhouette remained fairly standardised. They were worn layered with other garments, but I’m afraid I have neither the expertise nor the time to discuss them here. For more information, I’ve attached a list of sources, most of which are freely available online.

Japan and Europe began trading in 1545, with the Portuguese acting as middle men between Japan and China, who had trade embargoes on each other until the end of the 16th Century. However, the Portuguese were also strongly trying to push Christianity onto the Japanese, particularly since their translators were Jesuit priests. In the 1590s, the Dutch arrived, and also began trading on a small scale, but focussed most of their interests on the East Indies. However, all this changed with the full ascendance of Shogun Iemitsu in 1632. He enacted a variety of anti-Christian policies as part of his plan to unify Japan. In 1637 the Shimabara rebellion occurred: an armed revolt against these policies. In putting it down, Shogun Iemitsu had thousands killed. Since so many of those rebelling were Christian, it was an ideal excuse to kick out the Portuguese and restrict the Dutch to trading only from Deshima, an artificial island just off Nagasaki.

The Dutch were in the Shogun’s good books (relatively speaking), since they didn’t go around trying to convert everyone to Christianity, and actually used careful diplomacy in trade agreements rather than just force of arms. In restricting the Dutch to Deshima, Iemitsu was completing the process of fully isolating Japan that he had begun by forbidding all the Japanese from travelling abroad or returning home. As such, the Dutch were able to facilitate shipping between Japan and Japanese settlements in Siam, Quinam, and Tonkin, as well as take advantage of the fact that they were now the only Europeans trading with Japan. They were able to supply the Japanese with textiles from China and Europe, spices from the East Indies, ivory from Africa, and hides from Thailand and Taiwan, while exporting gold, silver, copper, camphor, porcelain, lacquerware, and grains back to Europe. Deshima became quite the tourist attraction, with souvenirs depicting the Dutch sailors being sold to visitors in Nagasaki. The Dutch continued to have the monopoly on what little trade Japan allowed until the re-opening of Japan in the 19th Century. As such, Japanese scholars studying the West had a very Dutch-centric view of things, not realising that Holland was not, by the 19th Century, the centre of European affairs.

Portuguese Sailors, 16th Century

The Adoption of the Kimono by the Europeans

At this point, you’re probably wondering what on earth any of this has to do with 18th Century gowns! Well, in annual audiences in the 1640s with the directors of the United East India Company (the Dutch traders), the Shogun gave them 30 silk gowns (kimonos) by way of showing that the trade agreement was re-established for another year. The scarcity of these garments brought back to Holland made them incredibly desirable, and elevated their status. Soon enough, replicas of these ‘Japanese gowns’, also known as banyans, morning gowns, or night gowns began to be created in Europe. Banyans (derived from a worn in Gujerati for a Hindu merchant or trader and applied to the dress that Europeans thought such traders wore) quickly gained popularity throughout Europe, and by the 1670s were being made in fashionable European silks.

A c. 1540 illustration of Portuguese nobles in India. From the Códice Casanatense (Biblioteca Casanatense, Rome) Text possibly reads unmarried Christian women Indian.

These gowns, based on kimonos, were worn as informal wear by men, initially, and then adopted by women (as is often the case throughout history). They were available from tailors, and could also be bought from gown warehouses specialising in high end ready-to-wear garments; their looseness meant that they did not need any particular fitting. Copies were made both in Europe and Asia, making use both of ‘exotic’ fabrics and more familiar European prints.

16th Century Tailors

Tailors were almost invariably men, who had undergone a 4-7 year apprenticeship in which they would often eventually specialise in a particular sort of garment. This work tended to require a great deal of skill when it came to cutting and fitting a garment to a client’s specific body shape.

Women, meanwhile, were mainly shut out of the tailoring industry, relegated instead to spinning, and making simple undergarments like shirts and smocks. Shirts and smocks were far less fitted than the garments that tailors made; they tended to be cut according to the width of the linen, and the pattern pieces were squares and rectangles (with the occasional triangle). As can be seen above, in terms of shape, they are very similar to the night gowns being produced as copies of the kimonos.

Sir Isaac Newton by James Thornhill

Where they differ, however, is that the sleeves of a nightgown, like the sleeves of a Kimono, are cut in one with the body (see the picture above – no shoulder seam!), meaning that the pattern continues the same way up on the sleeves as the body when the arms are held out, but is rotated by 90 degrees when the arms are held down by the sides. Seamstresses, who were already used to making similarly-shaped, loose garments, took advantage of the increase in demand for these informal garments among less wealthy customers, and began manufacturing gowns for both men and women. To be able to wear such garments before donning more formal attire was a show of status (both in having the time to wear such a garment, and the money to afford it). By the end of the 17th Century, the Manteau (as it was known in France), was evolving further away from its origins.

Note – For men, the banyan continued to be fashionable informal wear into the 19th Century, sometimes being loose and dressing gown-like, at other times being more fitted and rather more resembling a long, tailored coat. We’re going to stop talking about men’s dressing gowns here, however, and look exclusively at women’s wear from now on.

The Development of the Mantua

17th-century women’s fashionable dress tended towards highly-structured, highly-fitted two-piece dresses worn over a chemise and a (sometimes visible and decorated) petticoat. The informal Japanese gown represented a step away from these fashions when in the privacy of one’s own home, despite the fact that it was still worn over the dress bodices or stays. By the 1670s, however, the informal ‘Manteau’ had become the ‘Mantua’, an acceptable form of outside dress not only adopted by the French elite, but even worn by working class women. Not only was the mantua gaining popularity in the 1670s, by 1675, Louis XIV licensed Parisian seamstresses to form a guild of their own, allowing them to legally produce the following women’s and children’s garments: ‘Dressing Gowns, Skirts, Justaucorps, Manteaux, Hongrelines, Camisoles, Bodices, and all other Items of all kinds of fabric to clothe Women and Girls, with the exception of Dress Bodices and Dress Skirts only…’. While this particular development began in Paris, it quickly spread across Europe.

Manteau, ca. 1685-90, fashion plate by J. Bonnard from La Mode Illustrée

While it was cut in the same way as the Manteau, or Japanese gown, the Mantua was somewhat more fitted, by use of pleats at the front and back of the bodice. It was worn over a set of stays and a petticoat, and, as can be seen in the above image, was often worn with the skirt looped up at the back. The simple shaping acted in much the same way as the Kimono it originated from: the aim being to show off the sumptuous materials often used.

The wide popularity of the mantua was caused by many things. For starters, they were cheaper to make than the more complex court dress, requiring less time, less skill and less fabric. Only one set of stays was necessary, since they could be worn under various different mantuas, as opposed to the court dress, where every different skirt required a matching set of stays. It could be made from anything, from relatively cheap printed cotton up to richly decorated silks, rendering it accessible across the social spectrum. It was a garment that worked both formally and informally, and could be worn further down the social scale: bourgeoise women were able to adopt this new fashion without attracting such ridicule and mockery as they would have done if they had adopted imitations of full court dress.

Its popularity was also likely thanks to its timing: the mantua came about not only at the same time as the formation of the first seamstresses guilds, but also at the same time as the first fashion magazine: the Mercure Galante. This magazine not only gave information on what certain noble men and noble women were wearing, but also from which seamstresses and tailors one might procure similar garments: ‘Those who wish to have them made like they make them at Court, only have to address themselves to Madame du Creux, Rue Traversine who dresses the largest part of the people of the first quality’.

Female seamstresses produced most women’s clothing by the 18th Century, with the exception of more tailored garments such as riding habits, stays, and the more specialised court dress. The association of the Mantua with seamstresses was incredibly strong: the English term for a seamstress by the 18th century was ‘Mantua-maker’.

Mantua to Sacque

The Mantua continued to evolve through the 18th Century, ending up far away from its simple origins, in the form of the sacque, worn over wide panniers, and the far more fitted robe a l’Anglaise. However, echoes of it still remain, even in these dresses.

The initial change to the mantua occurred in the opening of the bodice to reveal a highly-decorated stomacher. The next change, however, was into the robe volante, another wonderful way of displaying beautiful silks with large patterns, and the stepping-stone between the mantua and the sacque.

Here, there are some small pleats at the side seam, as well as the back, increasing the volume of fabric in the skirts. Additionally, the sleeves are cut separately, yet still carry echoes of their Japanese origin, most clearly seen in striped dresses, where the stripes on the bodice and skirt tend to be vertical, while the stripes of the sleeve are horizontal. This continues for the rest of the century.

Sack, 1770-1775, V&A Museum

The cut of the sleeves of women’s dresses through the 18th Century is also thanks to the Kimono. Female seamstresses’ experience with sleeves was initially only through their work with shirts, smocks, and mantuas. None of these garments have the curved sleeve head we would think of when making modern sleeves. Since 18th-century mantua makers were generally draping their garment onto their client, rather than cutting to a pattern, sleeve heads copied from 18th-century extant dresses can look incredibly strange when compared to a modern day sleeve, or even the sleeve of a man’s coat of the period.

Finally, the habit of cutting the bodice and skirt as one continues in dresses such as the robe a l’anglaise (where the back pleats of the bodice run on into the skirt, while the rest of the skirt is cut separately to the bodice), and the robe a la polonaise (NOT a skirt gathered up at the back, but in fact a dress with a fitted bodice wherein there are no waist seams: the skirt and bodice are cut entirely as one, with all fitting along the side seams).

Dress, 1725, MET Museum, showing the construction of the robe a l’anglaise; the skirt pleats at the sides are merely seamed to the bodice, while those of the centre back continue from above.


While various articles and books (many of which I have used as sources) have connected the Kimono and the Banyan, the Banyan and the Mantua, or dealt with the evolution of the Mantua to the Sacque, I have yet to come across anything that draws the line from the Kimono to the Sacque. The interconnectedness of Dutch-Japanese trading agreements resulting in the rise of female guilds is something that I find fascinating.

There is much more to be delved into in the importation of the popular ‘bizarre silks’ of the early 18th Century, and the imitations of Indian Chintz and Chinese silk painting being produced in Europe all being used as materials to make these beautiful gowns. However, I’ve really written too much already, and should stop here for now.


Arnold, Janet, Patterns of Fashion 1, School of Historical Dress, London, 2021

Arnold, Janet, Patterns of Fashion 5, School of Historical Dress, London, 2018

Blaine, Dr. Ilana Singer, Kimono, Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art

Crowston, Clare, Engendering the Guilds: Seamstresses, Tailors, and the Clash of Corporate Identities in Old Regime France, French Historical Studies, Vol 23:2, Spring 2000, pp.339-371

Crowston, Clare, Fabricating Women: The Seamstresses of Old Regime France 1675-1791, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2001

Crowston, Clare, Women, Gender, and Guilds in Early Modern Europe, paper presented at The Return of the Guilds, Utrecht University, 5-7 October 2006

Doolan, Paul, The Dutch in Japan, History Today, Vol 50 (4), April 2000, pp.36-42

Glamann, Kristof, Dutch-Asiatic Trade 1620-1740, Martinus Nijhoff’s Gravenhage, Den Haag, 1981

Hill, Daniel D., History of World Costume and Fashion, Prentice Hall, New York, 2011

Joby, Christopher Richard, Dutch in Seventeenth-Century Japan: A Social History, Journal of Low Country Studies, Vol 42:2 2018, pp.175-196

Koda, Harold, and Richard Martin. “Orientalism: Visions of the East in Western Dress.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000 – http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/orie/hd_orie.htm (October 2004)

Kramer, Elizabeth, and Akiko Savas, The Kimono Craze: From Exoticism to Fashionability, 2020

Mikhaila, Ninya, Jane Malcolm Davies, The Typical Tudor, ….

North, Susan, Indian Gowns and Banyans – New Evidence and Perspectives, Costume, Volume 54:1, pp.30-55

Satsuki Milhaupt, Terry, Kimono: A Modern History, Reaktion Books, London, 2014

Thunder, Moira, Object in Focus: Man’s Banyan, Word and Image Department, Victoria and Albert Museum

Thursfield, Sarah, Perfect Linens Plain and Fancy, 2006

Toyoshima, Masako, The Evolution of Japanese Women’s Kimono from A.D.200 – 1960, Master’s Report, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, 1967

Wahid, Abdul, The Dutch’s ‘Floating Life’ on Deshima Island: A Gloomy Side of Dutch-Japan Relationship During the Tokugawa Periode, 1715-1790, Jurnal Kajian Wilayah, Vol. 6 No. 1, 2015. pp.1-16

Van Veen, Ernst, VOC Strategies in the Far East (1605-1640), Bulletin of Portuguese – Japanese Studies, Vol 3, Dec 2001, pp. 85 – 105

Modes. 24th January 1829

25th of January 1829

We have spoken of frills en rideau, frills which, even in Chantilly blond, are a half ell high. The bias tucks, and even the ribbon treillages are the same height. We make the treillages in moire ribbon in a colour that that contrasts with the background of ball gowns, or in similar ribbons, that is to say, in pinks, blues, yellows, and whites.

The fullness of short sleeves, called en beret, is such that if we unpick one of these little sleeves, either gathered, or bubbled, or draped, from above the wrist which goes just around the arm between the elbow and the shoulder, one finds that the piece of fabric of a half yard, or even three quarters of a yard, has been used.

The sellers of novelties have trouble agreeing on the colour eminence; it is wanted by some to be purple.

We have seen at a belle assemblee lots of violet hats, lined in white, and a few lined in yellow. A hat of buff satin, lined and ornamented in transparent ponceau satin, hat for trimming two esprits that were white with a black curled base. Willow plumes, blue and black, or pink and black, ornament hats of black velvet, lined in vivid pink. A boiteaux willow has between the length of three knotted barbs, a black barb between two pink barbs, or a blue barb between two black. In the past, we called the boiteuse a feather of two colours separated at the edge.

A design of the name mephistopheles is a ponceau ribbon with spiked edges of black, or black with spiked edges of ponceau.

The most elegant hoods are of gros de Naples or of moire the colour of yellow bird of paradise/ On the edge of the pass[?] and on the flap, is embroidered with a garland of leaves of almond or of ivy, in ponceau silk. The edge has a high blond for trimming. In demi-neglige, the elegants wear redingotes of satin or of gros des Indes with a double pelerine. These pelerines are bordered with a fringe with four rows of braided silk net.


Some men’s coats are trimmed with sky blue plush. The little collar is of astracan grey.

At balls, there are fashionists who wear grey and black chequerboard stockings: their handkerchief is of batiste, with an inch wide hem; the corners alone are embroidered.


To today’s sheet is joined engraving 2665.


Coiffure ornamented with pearls and velvet by Mr Hippolite, Dress of gros des Indes trimmed with bubbles of gauze and satin palm leaves by Mme Hippolite.

From: Journal des Dames et des Modes

Onward to 31st of January 1829

Back to 20th of January 1829

Modes. 20th January 1829

20th of January 1829

In general the hats offer pink under black, white under violet, ponceau [poppy-colour] under green, yellow under brown; pink and blue all united, uncut with other colours. When a hat isn’t ornamented with willow or two esprits, it has, for a trimming, a great number of very long white feathers.

To ornament head-dresses of hair, there are gauze ribbon cockades, in a colour called cheveaux [hair colour], which is more or less dark, more or less light, nuanced to the shade chestnut, brown, or blonde, of the tresses. These ribbons are woven with gold or silver.

We have seen at a ball, hops in bloom, interspersed with ponceau [poppy-coloured] feathers, the whole forming a crown. Other garlands are composed of bunches of grapes and roses. As an ornament to the ball coiffure, it is necessary again to mention the pink geranium.

We call sleeves montees a l’anglais, those which have, in addition to the circumference of the sleeve and the armscye, a crescent of fabric, of similar fabric to the dress, but gathered and pleated in a thousand pleats. This crescent represents the epaulette of the uniform of British troops. Sometimes it is in velvet on a satin dress, and satin on a redingote of velvet. Its purpose seems to be to allow the dressmaker to attach the sleeves very low, below the shoulder.

A few fashionists have brought back to the wrist the circular bouffant which, last summer, on sleeves a la Marie, enveloped the elbow. Thus descended, we name it manchette.

We make, for ladies who don’t dance at balls, lots of dresses in embroidered grosgain.

In going out for a ball, some ladies put on pelisses entirely lined in fur. These witz-chouras descent less low than normal pelisses.

The round collar on men’s cloaks falls lower than the elbow.

Oddity of the moment: there are women’s stockings the colour of flesh under which little birds are embroidered in Navarin blue, or butterflies painted in colour.


To the sheet of today is joined engraving 2664


Hair-style ornamented with lame ribbons and pearls by Mr Mulot. Dress of crepe trimmed with paws[?] bordered with selvedges of satin.

From: Journal des Dames et des Modes

Onwards to 25th of January 1829

Back to 15th of January 1829

Modes. 15th January 1829

15th of January 1829

Young people wear to balls dresses of crepe, whose hem is trimmed with a bias fold close to the feet, and surmounted with three pleats. Sometimes these pleats are in satin of a different colour to the dress: then, bodice and sleeves are in harmony with the pleats.

We border most bodices with two or three bands tulle, gathered and pleated into large piping; but the shoulders are always off the body.

Besides the arrows, ears of wheat, and flowers in pearls that ornament head dresses of hair, there are belts of pearls; we clip even satin bodices with pearl rosettes.

Some fashionists trim the bottom of a ball dress, whose bodice is pink or blue, with moire ribbons in the colour of the bodice. These ribbons form a treillage that goes up to the knees.

Often, young elegants wear a tulle dress over a dress of yellow satin. The tulle dress is embroidered with carnation buds, ad, at the height of the knees, a range of bouquets.

Berets are, like head-dresses of hair, ornamented with pearls. Often a beret of eminence coloured plain velvet is bordered with two rows of pearls; a rosette in pearls is embroidered on the flat; and three or four cordons of pearls finish in a tassel descending to the shoulder.


Some fashionists wear black tortoiseshell eyeglasses in the form of a figure of 8: a black ribbon, passed in the upper part, suspends them on the chest at the height of the second button of the redingote.

We now make ballroom shoes, for men, in patent leather.

The beaux-fils wear to the ball, knee tight trousers, which mark well the calf, and which are narrow to the bottom of the leg. These trousers only descend to the ankle; they have silk under-feet[?]. Waistcoats are in little velvet in bright blue with fantasy designs. The coat, black or brown, a collar very large in the same fabric: the lapels are wide and have sharp points; the waist low and narrow, the sleeves just to the wrist, and short enough to see a flat or pleated cuff.

The big fashion is to have blue gloves, sewn and embroidered in white silk.


To today’s sheet is joined engravings 2662 and 2663


Satin hat ornamented with blond and flowers by Mme Beauvais, Rue Ste Anne, No 77. Dress of merino embroidered in silk.


Cloth [broadcloth or similar?] coat from Mr Barde, Rue Vivienne, entirely lined in silk. Waistcoat of embroidered grosgrain. Under-waistcoat in velvet. Trousers of cashmere. Cloak of cloth [broadcloth or similar?] lined in staff, and a plush collar. Cloth suit from Mr Barde.

From: Journal des Dames et des Modes

Onwards to 20th of January 1829

Back to 10th of January 1829

Modes. 10th January 1829

10th of January 1829

Besides butterflies and hummingbirds, the hair dressers employ cordons and bandeaux of white pearls to ornament the head dresses of hair. Often these cordons form an open basket in the middle of the head. This fashion is from the reign of Henry IV: various portraits of Gabrielle d’Estrees are representative of this hair style. When the pearls are mounted in a diadem, two cordons serve to fasten it, will reach the top of the coiffure from behind. Flowers also figure sometimes as a diadem.

The round bottom of tulle bonnets, called bonnets parres, have gathers held on to the top of the head by a rosette of gauze, satin striped ribbon. Two double pleats, in tulle, garnish the border of these bonnets. Under the last pleat, which is raised, there is a cordon of lily of the valley, or heather in flower.

Lots of bright green ribbons are employed by the marchandes de modes. On a hat of violet gros des Indes, they put loops and cones in green gauze ribbons.

There is on the satin or velvet hats of a transparent colour, such a profusion of towers of blond, that the two esprits that form the obligitary garnish, are as if implanted in cones of blond.

The hem of plain velvet dresses that are destined for grand soirees, are garnished with a high frill of black or white blond, at the head of which is a twist of two gold strands. From distance to distance, this twist forms a rosette, and the blond frill is designated in festoons.

Some lady’s mantles, in fabric of cashmere, are ornamented, at the collar and the lower border, with Etruscan designs cut with a punch.

The furriers must be overjoyed: the shopping for boas and fur palatines doesn’t stop the buying of muffs: they are in all sizes.


On this day’s sheet is attached engraving 2661


Plain velvet hat ornamented with feathers and satin ribbons, by Mme Millet, Boulevart Italien, No 20. Plain velvet dress trimmed in Marten. Half ankle boots.

From: Journal des Dames et des Modes

Onward to the 15th of January 1829

Back to the 5th of January 1829

October 1829 Fashion Plates from: La Mode: Revue des modes, galerie de moeurs, album des salons

Tail coat without side pockets, waistcoat of silk brocade, cravat without the collar of the shirt.

Alpine dress, Moire hat.

Alpine dress, printed in the Magasins des Dames a la mode at 59, Rue des Petits-Champs, Satin hat, heeled ankle boots.

Morning Wrapper – – – – – – – – – – – – – Redingote of lined muslin

Bonnet d’Herbault in blond and flowers.

Over-dress in red cachemire, Greek embroidery in gold

Under-dress in white satin trimmed in blond

Folding Chinese fan, placed in the ???

Hat of sky blue velvet, lined in white satin from the atelier of Herbault

Dress of garnet coloured Indian reps, ciscan gloves from chez Bodier, Rue Richelieu

Corder’s[?] bonnet. Sleeved waistcoat of reindeer skin, patch pockets. Trousers in knit suede colour; from l’athenee des modes, rue Richelieu, No. 104. Leather gaiters from chez Boivin, rue Castiglione.

Black velvet robe trimmed with fringes of feathers. Beret a la Rob-roy with bird of paradies, the head with a ruby eye.

Coiffure of rose buds. White satin robe. Tunic in Japonnaise trimmed with rouleaux forming a chain. Sleeves of blond. Jewelled clasps. Garnet poplin cloak lined in green plush, large mantle in big pleats trimmed with a fringe.

New opera hat. Pleated Diebitsch. Brown coat reflecting blood colour [possibly a changeable fabric?], lined in similar velvet. Trousers of black cashmire.

Velvet train embroidered in gold. White satin robe trimmed in blond. Barbed mancherons and similar sleeves. Pearl adornment. Dress and train from Victorine. Coiffure from Frederic.

Berline made for S. A. R. Monseigneur le Duc de Bordeaux by Thomas Baptiste.

Convertible de Heliers by Thomas Baptiste, rue Lepelletier: No. 23.

From: La Mode: Revue des modes, galerie de moeurs, album des salons

Principals of Costume, October 1829

(Translated (somewhat inexpertly by me) from French)

Those who attach the most importance to fashion are almost always less than the people who affect to distance themselves from it; because originality in dress is, more often than not, a mania for appearing bizarre, and a manner of being ridiculous.

It is in our plan of stopping sometimes the exigencies in the fashion to critically examine good taste. One of our friends, an erudite artist, who has made all the sorts of costumes, in all times and in all countries, for research, has consented to help us in our studies; one must pardon him for speaking seriously on a thing perhaps frivolous, but he considers it like an art, posing that the foundational principle is that taste never has to be called and embellished with that which is today convenient. In support of that opinion, he argues that tight and embarrassing clothes always take away the advantage of those who wear them; that the grace cannot exist without ease and a certain abandon; that in fashion, there are general precepts, but no absolute laws. We take his opinion, that it is not in the crowd of people following most strictly the new fashion that he recounts: instead, the women, like we can name, in distinction and elegance attired and charming look, without imperious command. This forward we have found useful, now our knowing friend will instruct us in his studies.

Women’s Clothes (First Article)

In Ancient Greece, clothing was worn with reason in the rank of fine art; the principles were determined; its influence on taste, on the arts, on habits and morals, was wisely appreciated, and public officials had a duty to prevent the violation of its fundamental laws.

In modern times, clothing has degenerated considerably; the forms are more disgraceful and the most incoherent combinations of colour have been adopted with eagerness; just in our days the middle classes, deceived by self-interested observations and without taste, have surrendered to each object of an extreme ridiculousness. The most high classes even let themselves be deceived.

Happily the progress of public taste starts to do more or less justice. The knowing of all that relates to the human figure and the continual relationship with the admirable models that Greece leaves us, tend to destroy the bad taste of graceless automatons and the folly of a costume that, the most often, is in direct opposition to all notions of taste.

The truth of this point is that the French study exclusively the costume of other countries, and put it centre stage too often. The other nations give Frace credit because of the knowledge they attributed to them, and all the more willingly because they thought these matters frivolous, and having no need of the help of the philosophical principles.

What is dignified of remarking, is that this is regards mainly the dress of women, while men in Franch generally follow English fashions.

“The pretintailles [fashions?] of the old regime suit us even less, who never had a single piece of clothing of their own invention. In the time of Henry IV, the costume of France was Spanish; under Louis XIII it was Flemish, Louis XIV added the wig of Polichinelle [Punchinello?]. Under Louis XV it was strangled, and the size of our justaucorps increases or decreases at present according to our tailors in London.

Today the other nations, and above all the English, follow most often the French fashions, and settle the preferences of their clothes after the most simple imitations of the models of Greece.

One is brought to think with the Athenians that the matter of dress and the appearance of the human figure is not less one of fine art than the construction of houses and the arrangement of gardens.

If the characteristic trait of all fine art is that the subjects who are depicted have a certain expression or produce on the spirit an effect at the same time, constant, and agreeable, the costume produces it in a striking way, and the principals on which it is called for that which is neither indefinable nor even vague. Therefore, for example, like all the objects that are expanded at the top, and narrowing at the bottom, the same as reversed pyramids, an air of lightness, and an appearance of gravity in the opposite sense, the same, for costume, a light head and a trained dress characterise the most elevated lady, while a big hat and a short dress distinguish the young girl.

Colours are not less susceptible to be reduced to principals, as we shall see.

Maybe the magic effects of fashion, and the making certain that dress is most distinguished, when it does not conform, is less agreeable compared to a dress of lesser beauty that she made, causes one to think of some people who, in costume, the public taste stands above reason and is independent of all principals.

To respond to an objection, we will observe that one of the circumstances that here influences taste, influences also fine art, to which people don’t refuse to have certain principals. This circumstance is the novelty without which the meaning would cease to be exciting; the novelty, so attractive, is tellingly irresistible for youth, which is inseparable from the same idea, and the most striking sign of old age is novelty’s absence.

In declamation, in sculpture, in painting, in rhetoric, in poetry, and in music, who is the man who insensible to the charm of novelty while respecting his principles? And in the costume, whose subjects address so directly to the senses and interest doubles the imagination, should we expect for the novelty to cease to have its effect? Is it not more reasonable to thank that it acts again to our advantage?

The same love of novelty that produces la mode, is also, in some sort, the reason for which all classes of society are so eager to follow the changes: it is they who render the mode universal, and becomes the reason why it is adopted even by the most ugly persons alike as those who give grace to all they wear.

The first principal of costume is that a large garment that drapes in part over the body, and that envelopes the rest, is generally preferable to a dress more fitted, which is fitted to everything by its cut and its shape.

As to the grandeur, the form, &c., the details depend more or less on the circumstances, therefore we will not stop there, and we will inquire only on the patterns of superiority of the first garment: 1st it is always more cold in summer and more warm in winter; in the two seasons it exposes less the ill effects of the changes of temperature than a more fitted garment. There you go for the utility; 2nd the same garment can always be worn in a manner pretty or grand; a fitted garment is more often petty, and becomes ridiculed when the mode is past. There you go for the expression.

The second principal of costume is that, if all the objects when enlarged at the top and diminished at the base have, like the inverted pyramid, an air of lightness and the appearance of gravity in a contrary position; the human figure also, when the clothes that are worn are in one or the other form, take equally one or the other appearance. It is that we have already observed a light coiffure and a wide and long dress indicate a lady of elevated rank, while a large hat and a short dress belong rather to the young girl.

In examining in a critical manner the costume of women, and above all that of the present day, it is necessary to observe that we have taken its general character a little while after the beginning of the French Revolution, when the imitation of the Greek models became a la mode. The old colour of clothing and that which was unpleasant was set aside for more graceful clothing, more commodious, and more in accordance with nature. That clothing has endured up until today with those more marked characters; the point on which it varies, in different times, with the raising and lowering of the waist. It is sometimes high, sometimes low, sometimes middling; but it is evident that the last place is the only one that is natural or convenient.

Here we remark that the beauty of the waist itself depends a lot on the form of the corset.

The shawls or the scarves compose the most ordinary full body adornment. The first is only convenient for tall and thin people: but it does not produce a beautiful effect even for them, while it is ruinous for short people, or those who are overweight, however well made they may be. The scarf is better convenient for all sorts of people; it works perfectly as the peplum of the ancient Greeks, and it is capable of the same agreeable arrangements.

We go now to make a few remarks on the different parts of women’s dress, and begin with that which serve the head, and first of all with the veil, which is the most elegant of all. In large, easy pleats, they are agreeable in themselves, and contrast agreeably with the colours of the figure. At the same time they excite curiosity, they hide that in the face which appears harsh, and give grace and beauty.

A woman with an oval face shape should wear a hat with a flared brim that reveals the bottom of the cheeks. A woman with a round face shape should wear a less open hat; and if the bottom of the cheeks are too protruding, it diminishes that default in the edges of the hat stopping near the chin.

A long neck necessitates the corners of the hat descending and the extremity of the dre, s filling, more or less, the intermediate space. For a more short neck, it is necessary to have a hat equally short and closing perpendicularly, and the part next to the dress neither high nor big. People who have big shoulders must have shoulder pads very full on the corner of the shoulder; the front like the back of the dress must form oblique pleats from the point of the shoulder to the middle of the bust.

If one has too little chest, it can be remedied with oblique pleats at the top of the clothing.

If the bottom of the back isn’t ample enough, its resemblance can be supplied with pleats at the back of the dress.

Big women can wear a large or more garnished dress, or one and the other; little women a less large dress, but also as long as possible, with very low garnishing.

The tight shoes make the foot appear large and the instep particularly protrude. Would you believe that it’s still a new truth, and that it is not generally understood?

From: La Mode: Revue des modes, galerie de moeurs, album des salons

Onwards to part two: Harmony in Colour

Fashion Plate Terminology: Sleeves

Still in progress!

A la Donna Maria

“…both these dresses had sleeves a la Donna Maria, very tight at the smaller part of the arm.”

A la mameluke

“It is no longer fashionable to wear any stiffening under the sleeves, a la Mameluke. It is the mode now for them to fall entirely from the shoulders.” – May 1829

“…the sleeves are full but not quite a l’Imbecille, neither are they so wide as the Mameluke sleeves.” – August 1829

A la Marie

A la seduisante

A l’Imbecille

“It is not pleasant to be compelled to give always the true reason why fashions often bear a ludicrous though appropriate name; but the long and loose sleeves now worn without any support from the shoulder to the wrist, are styled sleeves a l’imbecille.* {*And they are justly so named; for they are exactly like those worn by the fool or clown in a pantomime, and the Chinese drolls, which perform such characters in their excellent plays. ED.}” – July 1829

“Perhaps it is to put an end, as soon as possible, to the the large sleeves, that they have been named, a l’imbecille. It must be confessed that they are universally adopted; however, a new form begins to appear; it is a l’amadis, very tight from the elbow to the wrist, while the upper part of the sleeve, which is extremely wide, falls above the elbow, like a kind of ruffle.” – July 1829

“the sleeves are full but not quite a l’Imbecille, neither are they so wide as the Mameluke sleeves.” – August 1829

“the imbecilles, however horrible their denomination, seem likely to be general during the summer.” – September 1829

A l’Orientale

En Beret

En jigot