'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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!}

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

2 comments:

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!

Card Catalog

#6barsets #emma200th #maisie #PalliserParty #Woolfalong A.A. Milne Agatha Christie Alexander McCall Smith Amy Lowell Angela Thirkell Ann Bridge Anne Perry Anthony Trollope Anticipation Armchair Travels Art Audiobooks Barbara Pym Biography Bloomsbury Bookish things Boston British Library Crime Classics Cambridge Cathleen Schine Charles Dickens Coffee-table books Cookbooks D.E. Stevenson Deborah Crombie Donna Leon Dorothy L. Sayers E.H. Young E.M. Forster Edith Wharton Elinor Lipman Elizabeth Gaskell Elizabeth Jenkins Elizabeth Taylor Elizabeth von Arnim Emily Dickinson Ernest Hemingway Eudora Welty Fiction Films Food from Books Food Writing Found on a Blog George Eliot Georgette Heyer Helen Ashton Henry James History Homes and Haunts Ideas Imogen Robertson Isabella Stewart Gardner Jacqueline Winspear Jane Austen Joanna Trollope Julia Child Language Laurie Colwin Letters Library Books Literature Louise Andrews Kent Louise Penny M.F.K. Fisher Madame Bovary Madame de Sévigné Madame de Staël Margaret Kennedy Margery Sharp Mary Shelley Memoirs Miss Read My Year with Edith Mysteries Nathaniel Hawthorne Nonfiction Nook Only Connect P.D. James Paris in July Persephones Plays Poetry Pride and Prejudice 200 Queen Victoria R.I.P. Reading England 2015 Ruth Rendell Sarah Orne Jewett Short Stories Switzerland Sylvia Beach Team Middlemarch The 1924 Club The Brontës the Carlyles The Classics Club Thomas Hardy Virago Virginia Woolf Washington Irving Willa Cather William Maxwell Winifred Peck Winifred Watson