Monday, January 7, 2013

I dream of aqua

and sea glass and mint green and teal and turquoise and anything in that family. I even talked mr man into a seafoam couch back in the early days of our relationship when all I had to do was smile pretty to win an argument. Color selection was the easy part. It's everything else that's a bit of a bear to decide. 1820, the year the Davenport House was completed was something of a hinky middle ground both for fashion.

Nearly everyone is familiar with the two differing silhouettes of the early 19th century even if only by sight. The first was the Regency Era, the era when Mad King George was beginning to lose his marbles and the people were seeing the wisdom of currying favor with the Prince Regency, or Prinny if you're a fan of regency era bodice rippers. If ever a bosom should be heaving, it would be in this era when the undergarments of the era were designed not just to lift and separate as the modern eye favors but to the extreme of putting one's ::ahem:: assets on a pronounced shelf. This is the era most often portrayed in Jane Austen adaptation. The 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility is a case study in turn of the century fashion with most of the costuming set firmly around 1795, a full 25 years earlier than the completion of the Davenport House. 

The second era is the Victorian Era, named after none other than Queen Victoria of England. Most of us know her as an old fashioned, stooped over and stout woman draped entirely in black, she wasn't always that way. Victoria was never considered a beauty, but she was quite fashionable back in her day, even if her mama wouldn't let her walk up the staircase by her lonesome. The early Victorian era starts with the beginning of her reign in 1837 and features a more reasonable waistline, full, sumptuous skirts, and lots of fripperies around the shoulders.

Not quite right for 1820 either. 

There was also the lesser known Romantic Era, which doesn't even rate an honorable mention on Wikipedia. How you like dem apples? Did you ever watch Doctor Dolittle as a kid? Not that hot mess crap with Eddie "screw comedy, I need a paycheck" Murphy but the old school original awesomeness that I watched until my little heart burst featuring Rex Harrison and Samantha Eggar whom I loved solely for her name. (Did you know she was on Star Trek TNG? Yeah, I didn't know that either. Be still my slightly geeky heart.)

The Romantic Era is probably best forgotten as it involves some of the most exaggerated silhouettes since panniers were in fashion. Huge skirts, monsterous shoulders, and hats you use to carry a week's worth of groceries inside. I mean look at that awful dijon mustardy looking thing on poor Samantha Eggar's head? But don't you worry your or rather, my pretty little head. The Romantic Era is just a sketch too late for the Davenport house as well. Trust me, no one is more relieved than I, even if I do like a ridiculous bonnet.

If you want the most accurate depiction of Regency Era fashions, there's really nothing better than Ackermann's Repository. The British periodical, printed from 1809 - 1829 pretty much covered every topic of the day. Politics, society gossip, the latest literary releases, and, of primary interest to the ladies, fashion. So I lost myself on google and pinterest for hours on end looking for the perfect inspiration. (If you scroll down, you'll find links to other years and issues.) I started in about 1817 and flipped around until I found a year where one's waistline wasn't somewhere around the nipples.

1823 was kind of a meh year for history. Britain did some prison reform, central America decided it was tired of Spain's crap, and Pope Pius VII kicked the bucket. But it seems to be a fabulous year for fashion as evidenced here. I think the pink is my favorite. What distinguishes the 1820s from earlier regency fashions isn't just the lowered waist but also the heavily decorated sleeves and hems. Is flouffy a technical term? What about flouncy? I don't know. What I do know is I can do this. Now let's get back to the color scheme. How exactly did I want to work aqua/seafoam/sage into the mix? And while I was ruminating on that over some celeb gossip, I struck gold.

Yes, it's a doll outfit. How about you shut it? It's beautiful. It's gorgeous. It's the color scheme I wish I could do in my living room and it's perfection. It was created by Sugarloaf Doll Clothes over on etsy but is alas, sold out because I'm not the only one who thought this divine. Check out her other work.

I haven't quite settled on all the details as I can't decide between a beautiful warmish mint linen I recently bought on sale from Fabric Mart after Christmas or if I want to pick up a beautiful vintage sari and thus, save myself some of the embroidery necessary to reproduce an elaborate hem. I also haven't decided on a pattern yet as there aren't any that are accurate for those years. I'll have to figure out what will be easiest to adjust and work from there, something I can't do until I've fitted my stays. So stay tuned.

Why yes, there will be a bonnet involved.

I can hardly contain my excitement, even if I will end up looking like a walking pint of mint chocolate chip icing.

In the meantime, if you don't have endless hours to putter around on the internet, do not visit this site or this one here

You people never listen.


  1. Wait? You like aqua?!?!? I never would've guessed!

  2. I am in love with ALL of this. The pink dress makes me swoon hard and in that Aqua color scheme. Oh my. I'm pretty sure you shouldn't ever show me the finished product because I will be forced to steal it