11/11/2008

Fashio of the week - Mourning in 1841


This picture shows the contrived scenes that can be seen in 19th century fashion plates - here a woman in evening-wear, ready for a party, is talking to a lady in mourning clothing (hardly a lady likely to go anywhere near a party). But after all, these pictures were made to show the different aspects of fashion and not real life-situations, so we should not worry too much about it.

The picture is from the French fashion magazine 'Petit Courrier des Dames', dated to 1841, and shows the typical look of the 1840's.

The lady in blue is dressed for an evening out, with a very low neckline, lined with lace and three-quarter sleeves, also with lace. The blue colour of the dress is rather light and the fabric striped. Her hair is carefully curled, in a way that was extremely popular at this time, and adorned with a white ribbon. Her accessories includes, of course, both gloves and a fan, but also a brooch.

The lady sitting down is dressed in mourning clothes - though not full mourning, the first stage after the death of someone close, then she would not have worn the flowers on the veil, nor had the broad, black band on the dress, nor was she supposed to show any skin at all and this lady exposes her wrists. But half mourning, the stage after full mourning in clothing, was still a serious affair. It was always good to wear a little, black veil, a little mantilla also in black lace - and matching black gloves (which here actually look like they also have some lace attached to them). Full mourning was the time to show sorrow - half mourning was a good opportunity to show off the latest fashion, in sombre black.

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