Fashion Doll Discovery

Found this website with an awesome collection of different fashion dolls on it.

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Little Boys in Frilly Dresses! – Part One

I don’t know if anybody else has noticed that little boys before the first world war always wore little frilly dresses, just like the ones their sisters were wearing. I collected loads of photo’s of the Russian royal family from the internet after reading about them and bought several books (The Camera and the Tsars: The Romanov Family in Photographs and Queen Victoria’s Family, both by Charlotte Zeepvat) which had loads of photos like this.

After researching these little boys fashions i found that before the first world war its has always been like this.

 

The above are picture of boys, the little boy in the pink dress is American and would have continued to wear dresses until he was breeched, which i guess has something to do with boys in earlier times wearing breeches when they were considered a child and not a toddler anymore. Also in this photo, the young boy’s bodice has no point going down as a young girls would (which would have been following the line of the corset underneath) which is something that would have made the two sexes distinguishable.

You can also see this here with the three eldest children of the Prince of Wales, the two children sitting are the future George III and his brother Edward. Edward is wearing a similar dress to the boy above while George’s dress is very similar to his sister’s Augusta’s, yet they are distinguishable by the cut in George’s Bodice which the pointed edge is atached to his apron, while his sisters bodice has a pointed edge with no cut.

 

 

Later on the fashions became more blurred, with practicality taking precedence over rules and symbols as children were becoming more playful and free in there portraits. Above is two boys playing with each other and animals, unrestricted by lace and stiff bodices. While young girls were portrayed in similar scenes and demonstrating that fashion had inevitably moved on, they still had the stiff pointed bodices over their restricting corsets, perhaps predicting the strict fashion code and social codes they would have to follow later in their lives.

Above is George III youngest daughters Mary, Sophia and Amelia.

 

 

The National Trust Collection

I have discovered, gratefully from The Costume Society of America, that The National Trust, here in England has put their entire collection online. I use to work at a national trust property called Trerice, i absolutely loved it there and made a little shriek when i heard this news because i had a few favorite items among their collection and when i volunteered there you couldn’t take photo’s in the house. I though i would share some with you all, their collection is here.

I remember this painting being put back, if you look carefully to the left you can see the wood that it was painted on is curved, they made a special box frame so the wood could bend back in its own time. The restorers also didn’t do a very good job (or perhaps it wasn’t them ?!?!) because on the lady’s right, her shoulder has been painted away and it’s shorter than her left, its not very visible here, you need to see it up close. Originally they had believed (or hoped) that this was a portrait of Queen Elizabeth, but it turned out to rich, English country lady.

I was also there when this painting came back, it had been living somewhere else in the country and was dirty, after restoration when it came back it was quite important to Trerice because this boy grew up to be the last Baron (i think) to live at Trerice, he died unmarried and quite young and i believe the house past through cousins. I believe this is the only portrait of one of the Arundell’s that Trerice had that lived at the house (again i may well be wrong, i stopped volunteering about 2010, i think).

This portrait of Charles I always use to give me the creeps.

They have several John Opie portraits there, which is lovely as he is a famous Cornish artist.

One day, when i was in this room (the great chamber) i was sat on the window sill watching the visitors and a child ran and jumped on this beautiful 17th century sofa, i think a part of me died inside and my mortification must have been very obvious as the child’s father quickly grabbed him and left.

Beautiful pieces of stumpwork from around the mid 1600’s.

The Puritan’s and Fashion – Is it really all black and white?

I’ve always really liked the ‘dark times’ in England’s history during the 17th century, of course not for the murder of Charles I, but how the English tried to follow the principles of the Puritans, yet always falling back into their old immoral ways. When it comes to the fashion of the 1640’s and 50’s you always think of black and white fabrics, boring, over-sized plain hats and simple coifs, but, was it really that dull?

Having a look at it now in more detail I’ve realised that in their choice of simple clothing they were making their own fashion impacts with subtle details in the large kerchiefs round their necks, trimmed with lace and the large starched ruffs, often trimmed with lace or seriously over-sized.

  They also showed a tiny glimmer of embroidery, as can be seen in the portrait above, the bodice is decorated with gold threads, while there is a small embroidered, organic pattern on the coif, perhaps reminding others of the importance of  nature and where we all originally come from, Adam and Eve. 

Yet it is still possible to distinguish the rich and poor from each other, which perhaps wasn’t the puritan believe but more about rich women following the fashions of the day.

This portrait above possibly shows how fashion was beginning to develop into the beautiful colours and silks and satin’s of the 1660’s, nearer the end of the Cromwellian period. The detailed embroidered silks on the under-skirt, the opened exposed sleeves and bodice with intricate detail all demonstrate a part of history moving forward, while the contrasting black and white and large kerchief show a society continued belief in a conservative form of fashionable attire.

These simple dress codes spread across both sides of the English civil war however, the Royalist also demonstrating their preference for simple dress in their portraits of the day as much as the parliamentarians.

 The dark, simple military Armour became popular among both groups after Peter Lely’s defining portrait of Oliver Cromwell with ‘warts and all’. The Puritans simple taste also inspired future generations of sombre fashions, such as the Victorians in their period of modesty with simple lace trimming on cuffs and neckerchiefs reaching over the shoulders. Perhaps it’s not boring and just needs more observation?

 

Women’s Redingote

A Redingote is a tight fitted coat that first appeared at the beginning of the 18th Century. Women were first wearing them as part of their riding habits, they were heavy, bulky garments that consisted of a large masculine style waistcoat underneath that stretched over the very large hooped petticoats of the first half of the 1700’s, while separating slightly at the centre. It was designed to mirror the male waistcoats and jackets of the time, with little pockets and buttons just visible underneath to add to the overall masculinity of the outfit.

The jacket mirrors every bit of the male counterpart, including the large, folded over cuffs and heavy embroidery; yet the sleeves are slightly further back, allowing for linen sleeves with lace to be shown, adding a feminine touch. The women even matched it down to the lace cravats the men wore from their unbuttoned waistcoats. 

In the 1780’s they really became popular, due to the French who now made it fashionable. At this time they were inspired by mens fashions of the day while also becoming perfectly tailored little coats. In some cases the coats were dark (as it was fashionable to wear them with a muslin dress underneath) that met at the chest and gradually descends down towards the back where they meet the top layer skirt that only goes half way round the whole petticoats. There is a embroidered waistcoat underneath that has a masculine touch with large buttons and small cuffs; there is also large, flat collars above on the jacket that continue this theme.

There were other varieties in this period, often inspired by military uniforms or their favorite political party, while other jackets were closed, supported by large frilly collars of muslin neatly around the neck. 

The Redingote continued until the late 19th century; in the regency period it followed the fashionable empire line of day, becoming a long pleated coat from underneath the bust, with a simple jacket and flat collar. They often had short detailed outer sleeves above a long sleeve, which went down to the wrist. The detail on the sleeves and coat was also military inspired, which is repeated all over the coat and dress. 

  The Redingote waned during the mid Victorian period, mainly being used again for riding habits, while resembling the early 1700’s shape.

Women’s shape began to change from the large crinolines of the 1850’s and as fashion changed, returning to a almost updated version of the regency empire line, the Redingote came back into fashion. The two piece bodice and skirt outfit that began to dominate the later part of the 19th century would also consist of a jacket, in most cases a simply design with more frills and patterns while the hem would float over the skirt.

In the 1880’s this became a tighter fit, with the same detail with fabric cascading down the back, reminiscent of the polonaise dress.

The 1890’s saw a return to short coats with frills and detail that was fashionable in the 1780’s, yet fashion choose a more feminine approach with lighter colours and a more natural body shape.