The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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April 18, 2011

A pre-wedding peek at British royal fashions

All across London, the Prince and Princess of Wales' courtiers and supporters were likewise preening and squeezing themselves into their court clothes. As the sun sank, each of the ladies was reaching the end of a toilette that had taken two hours or more. 'Lud! Will you never have done fumbling?' grumbled many a modern lady to her maid.
    Once her figure had been transformed into the right shape by tight stays and a hooped petticoat, a female courtier was required to put on her her court uniform. The 'mantua,' as it was known was an archaic, uncomfortable but supremely elegant form of dress. Pale forearms descended from wing-cuff sleevs with the requisite three rows of ruffles ('I am so incommoded with these nasty ruffles!') Long trains split at the back from tightly seamed waists. The mantua's skirts were spread out sideways over immensely wide hopps, too broad to pass through a door. 'Have you got the whalebone petticoats among you yet?' Jonathan Swift wrote from court. 'A woman here may hide a moderate galleon under them.'
      ...A bristling bevy of red-clad Yeoman of the Guard preceded the sedan chairs of the Prince and Princess of Wales as they led the procession of their servants and supporters out of Leicester Fields. Ladies in court dress had to be literally crushed into sedan chairs, 'their immense hoops' folded 'like wings, pointing forward on each side.' To accommodate their 'preposterous high' headdresses, they had to tilt their necks backward and keep motionless throughout the journey.
from The Courtiers:  Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court
at Kensington Palace,
by Lucy Worsley

{Images from the Victoria & Albert Museum. I was curious!}

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Vintage Reading said...

Heh. Excellent disguise for the British pear-shape!

Darlene said...

Hahaha! Vintage Reading made me laugh!

What I wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall whilst these ladies navigated a room in their skirts.

Thank you for visiting!

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