Social Victorians/Terminology

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Especially with respect to fashion, the newspapers at the end of the 19th century in the UK often used specialized terminology. The definitions on this page are to provide a sense of what someone in the late 19th century might have meant by the term rather than a definition of what we might mean by it today. In the absence of a specialized glossary from the end of the 19th century in the U.K., we use the Oxford English Dictionary because the senses of a word are illustrated with examples that have dates so we can be sure that the senses we pick are appropriate for when they are used in the quotations we have.

We also sometimes use the French Wikipédia to define a word because many technical terms of fashion were borrowings from the French. Also, often this Wikipédia provides historical context for the uses of a word.

Articles or Parts of Clothing: Non-gender-specific[edit | edit source]

Mantle, Cloak, Cape[edit | edit source]

In 19th-century newspaper accounts, these terms are sometimes used without precision as synonyms. These are all outer garments.

Mantle[edit | edit source]

A mantle — often a long outer garment — might have elements like a train, sleeves, collars, revers, fur, and a cape. A late-19th-century writer making a distinction between a mantle and a cloak might use mantle if the garment is more voluminous.

Cloak[edit | edit source]

Cape[edit | edit source]

Peplum[edit | edit source]

According to the French Wiktionnaire, a peplum is a "Short skirt or flared flounce layered at the waist of a jacket, blouse or dress" [translation by Google Translate].[1] The Oxford English Dictionary has a fuller definition, although because the sense is written for the present day, so it focuses on women's clothing:

Fashion. ... a kind of overskirt resembling the ancient peplos (obsolete). Hence (now usually) in modern use: a short flared, gathered, or pleated strip of fabric attached at the waist of a woman's jacket, dress, or blouse to create a hanging frill or flounce.[2]

Men haven't worn peplums since the 18th century, except when wearing costumes based on original portraits. The Daily News reported in 1896 that peplums had been revived as a fashion item for women.[2]

Pouf, Puff, Poof[edit | edit source]

According to the French Wikipédia, a pouf was, beginning in 1744, a "kind of women's hairstyle":

The hairstyle in question, known as the “pouf”, had launched the reputation of the enterprising Rose Bertin, owner of the Grand Mogol, a very prominent fashion accessories boutique on Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris in 1774. Created in collaboration with the famous hairdresser, Monsieur Léonard, the pouf was built on a scaffolding of wire, fabric, gauze, horsehair, fake hair, and the client's own hair held up in an almost vertical position. — (Marie-Antoinette, Queen of Fashion, translated from the American by Sylvie Lévy, in The Rules of the Game, n° 40, 2009)

Puff and poof are used to describe clothing.

Revers[edit | edit source]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, revers are the "edge[s] of a garment turned back to reveal the undersurface (often at the lapel or cuff) (chiefly in plural); the material covering such an edge."[3] The term is French and was used this way in the 19th century (according to the Wiktionnaire).[4]

Articles or Parts of Clothing: Men's[edit | edit source]

Men's military uniforms are discussed below.

À la Romaine[edit | edit source]

Old and damaged marble statue of a Roman god of war with flowing cloak, big helmet with a plume on top, and armor
Johann Baptist Straub's 1772 à la romaine Mars

A few people who attended the Duchess of Devonshire's fancy-dress ball in 1897 personated Roman gods or people. They were dressed not as Romans, however, but à la romaine, which was a standardized style of depicting Roman figures that was used in paintings, sculpture and the theatre for historical dress from the 17th until the 20th century. The codification of the style was developed in France in the 17th century for theatre and ballet, when it became popular for masked balls.

Women as well as men could be dressed à la romaine, but much sculpture, portraiture and theatre offered opportunities for men to dress in Roman style — with armor and helmets — and so it was most common for men. In large part because of the codification of the style as well as the painting and sculpture, the style persisted and remained influential into the 20th century and can be found in museums and galleries and on monuments.

For example, Johann Baptist Straub's 1772 statue of Mars (left), now in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich, missing part of an arm, shows Mars à la romaine. In London, an early 17th-century example of a figure of Mars à la romaine, with a helmet, was "at the foot of the Buckingham tomb in Henry VII's Chapel at Westminster Abbey."[5]:81, Col. 2c

Cavalier[edit | edit source]

Old painting of 2 men flamboyantly and stylishly dressed in colorful silk, with white lace, high-heeled boots and long hair
Van Dyck's c. 1638 painting of cavaliers Lord John Stuart and his brother Lord Bernard Stuart

As a signifier in the form of clothing of a royalist political and social ideology begun in France in the early 17th century, the Cavalier established France as the leader in fashion and taste. Adopted by wealthy royalist British military officers during the time of the Restoration, the style signified a political and social position, both because of the loyalty to Charles I and II as well the wealth required to achieve the Cavalier look. The style spread beyond the political, however, to become associated generally with dress as well as a style of poetry.[6]

Van Dyck's 1638 painting of two brothers (right) emphasizes the cavalier style of dress.

Coats[edit | edit source]

Doublet[edit | edit source]

  • In the 19th-century newspaper accounts we have seen that use this word, doublet seems always to refer to a garment worn by a man, but historically women may have worn doublets. In fact, a doublet worn by Queen Elizabeth I exists and is somewhere.
  • Technically doublets were long sleeved, although we cannot be certain what this or that Victorian tailor would have done for a costume. For example, the Duke of Devonshire's costume as Charles V shows long sleeves that may be part of the surcoat but should be the long sleeves of the doublet.

Pourpoint[edit | edit source]

Surcoat[edit | edit source]

Sometimes just called coat.

Hose and Tights[edit | edit source]

Newspaper accounts from the late 19th century use the term hose for what we might call stockings or tights. [In writing about the Ballet Russe, the word tights is used: Najinski and the ballerinas had tights.]

In photographs, men's hose are almost always wrinkled because they always would be, especially at the ankles and the knees. In painted portraits the hose are almost always depicted as smooth, part of the artist's improvement of the appearance of the subject.

Shoes and Boots[edit | edit source]

Articles or Parts of Clothing: Women's[edit | edit source]

Chérusque[edit | edit source]

According to the French Wikipedia, chérusque is a 19th-century term for the kind of standing collar like the ones worn by ladies in the Renaissance.[7]

Corsage[edit | edit source]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the corsage is the "'body' of a woman's dress; a bodice."[8] This sense is well documented in the OED for the mid and late 19th-century, used this way in fiction as well as in a publication like Godey's Lady's Book, which would be expected to use appropriate terminology associated with fashion and dress making.

The sense of "a bouquet worn on the bodice" is, according to the OED, American.

Décolletage[edit | edit source]

Girdle[edit | edit source]

Mancheron[edit | edit source]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a mancheron is a "historical" word for "A piece of trimming on the upper part of a sleeve on a woman's dress."[9] At the present, in French, a mancheron is a cap sleeve "cut directly on the bodice."[10]

Petticoat[edit | edit source]

Stomacher[edit | edit source]

Train[edit | edit source]

A train is

The Length of the Train

For the monarch [or a royal?]

According to Debrett's,

A peeress's coronation robe is a long-trained crimson velvet mantle, edged with miniver pure, with a miniver pure cape. The length of the train varies with the rank of the wearer:

  • Duchess: for rows of ermine; train to be six feet
  • Marchioness: three and a half rows of ermine; train to be three and three-quarters feet
  • Countess: three rows of ermine; train to be three and a half feet
  • Viscountess: two and a half rows of ermine; train to be three and a quarter feet
  • Baroness: two rows of ermine; train to be three feet[11]

The pattern on the coronet worn was also quite specific, similar but not exactly the same for peers and peeresses. Debrett's also distinguishes between coronets and tiaras, which were classified more like jewelry, which was regulated only in very general terms.

Peeresses put on their coronets after the Queen or Queen Consort has been crowned. [peers?]

Undergarments[edit | edit source]

Corset[edit | edit source]

Photograph of an old silk corset on a mannequin, showing the closure down the front, similar to a button, and channels in the fabric for the boning. It is wider at the top and bottom, creating smooth curves from the bust to the compressed waist to the hips, with a long point below the waist in front.
French 1890s corset, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

The understructure of Victorian women's clothing is what makes the costumes worn by the women at the Duchess of Devonshire's 1897 fancy-dress ball so distinctly Victorian in appearance. An example of a corset that has the kind of structure often worn by fashionably dressed women in 1897 is the one at right.

This corset exaggerated the shape of the women's bodies and made possible a bodice that looked and was fitted in the way that is so distinctive of the time — very controlled and smooth. And, as a structural element, this foundation garment carried the weight of all those layers and all that fabric and decoration on the gowns, trains and mantles. (The trains and mantles could be attached directly to the corset itself.)

  • This foundation emphasizes the waist and the bust in particular, in part because of the contrast between the very small waist and the rounded fullness of the bust and hips.
  • The idealized waist is defined by its small span and the sexualizing point at the center-bottom of the bodice, which directs the eye downwards.
  • The busk (a kind of boning in the front of a corset that is less flexible than the rest) smoothed the bodice, flattened the abdomen and prevented the point on the bodice from curling up.
  • The sharp definition of the waist was caused by
    • length of the corset (especially on the sides)
    • the stiffness of the boning
    • the layers of fabric
    • the lacing (especially if the woman used tightlacing)
    • the over-all shape, which was so much wider at the top and the bottom
    • the contrast between the waist and the wider top and bottom
  • The late-19th-century corset was long, ending below the waist even on the sides and back.
  • The boning and the top edge of the late 19th-century fashion corset pushed up the bust, rounding (rather than flattening, as in earlier styles) the breasts, drawing attention to their exposed curves and creating cleavage.
  • The exaggerated bust was larger than the hips, whenever possible, an impression reinforced by the A-line of the skirt and the inverted Vs in the decorative trim near the waist and on the skirt.
  • This corset made the bodice very smooth with a very precise fit, that had no wrinkles, folds or loose drapery. The bodice was also trimmed or decorated, but the base was always a smooth bodice. More formal gowns would still have the fitted bodice and more elaborate trim made from lace, embroidery, appliqué, beading and possibly even jewels.

The advantages and disadvantages of corseting and especially tight lacing were the subject of thousands of articles and opinions in the periodical press for a great part of the century, but the fetishistic and politicized tight lacing was practiced by very few women. And no single approach to corsetry was practiced by all women all the time. Most of the women at the Duchess of Devonshire's 1897 ball were not tightly laced, but the progressive style does not dominate either, even though all the costumes are technically historical dress. Part of what gives most of the costumes their distinctive 19th-century "look" is the more traditional corset beneath them. Even though this highly fashionable look was widely present in the historical costumes at the ball, some women's waists were obviously very small and others were hardly emphasized at all. Women's waists are never mentioned in the newspaper coverage of the ball — or, indeed, of any of the social events attended by the network at the ball — so it is only in photographs that we can see the effects of how they used their corsets.

Farthingale or Vertugadin[edit | edit source]

Vertugadin is a French term for farthingale, a cage made of hoops supporting a skirt — "un élément essentiel de la mode Tudor en Angleterre [an essential element of Tudor fashion in England]."[12] In fact, "La princesse espagnole Catherine d'Aragon amena la mode en Angleterre pour son mariage avec le prince Arthur, fils aîné d'Henri VII en 1501 [The Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon brought the fashion to England for her marriage to Prince Arthur, eldest son of Henry VII in 1501]."[12] Catherine of Aragon, of course, married Henry VIII after Arthur's death.

The French and Spanish farthingales were not identical by the end of the 16th century. The Spanish farthingale shaped the skirt into an A-line with a graduated series of hoops sewn to an undergarment. The French farthingale was a flattish "cartwheel" or platter of hoops worn below the waist and above the hips held the skirt out more or less horizontally. Once past the vertugadin, the skirt then fell straight to the floor, shaping the skirt into a kind of drum. The shoes show in the portraits of women wearing the French farthingale.

Traditional vs Progressive Style[edit | edit source]

Artistic Dress[edit | edit source]

Definitions: artistic dress, aesthetic dress, progressive style, etc.

The Styles[edit | edit source]

William Powell Frith, A Private View at the Royal Academy, 1881

We typically think of the late-Victorian silhouette as universal but, in the periods in which corsets dominated women's dress, not all women wore corsets and not all corsets were the same, as William Powell Frith's 1883 A Private View at the Royal Academy, 1881 (right) illustrates. Frith is clear in his memoir that this painting — "recording for posterity the aesthetic craze as regards dress" — deliberately contrasts what he calls the "folly" of the Artistic Dress movement and the look of the traditional corseted waist.[13] Frith considered the Artistic Movement and Artistic Dress "ephemeral," but its rejection of corsetry looks far more consequential to us in hindsight than it did in the 19th century.

As Frith sees it, his painting critiques the "craze" associated with the women in this set of identifiable portraits who are not corseted, but his commitment to realism shows us a spectrum, a range, of conservatism and if not political then at least stylistic progressivism among the women. The progressives, oddly, are the women wearing artistic (that is, somewhat historical) dress, because they’re not corseted. It is a misreading to see the presentation of the women’s fashion as a simple opposition. Constance, Countess of Lonsdale — situated at the center of this painting with Frederick Leighton, president of the Royal Academy of Art — is the most conservatively dressed of the women depicted, with her narrow sleeves, tight waist and almost perfectly smooth bodice, which tells us that her corset has eyelets so that it can be laced precisely and tightly, and it has stays (or "bones") to prevent wrinkles or natural folds in the overclothing. Lily Langtry, in the white dress, with her stylish narrow sleeves, does not have such a tightly bound waist or smooth bodice, suggesting she may not be corseted at all, as we know she sometimes was not.[citation] Jenny Trip, a painter’s model, is the woman in the green dress in the aesthetic group being inspected by Anthony Trollope, who may be taking notes. She looks like she is not wearing a corset. Both Langtry and Trip are toward the middle of this spectrum: neither is dressed in the more extreme artistic dress of, say, the two figures between Trip and Trollope.

A lot has been written about the late-Victorian attraction to historical dress, especially in the context of fancy-dress balls and the Gothic revival in social events as well as art and music. Part of the appeal has to have been the way those costumes could just be beautiful clothing beautifully made. Historical dress provided an opportunity for some elite women to wear less-structured but still beautiful and influential clothing. [Calvert[14]] The standards for beauty, then, with historical dress were Victorian, with the added benefit of possibly less structured. So, at the Duchess of Devonshire's ball, "while some attendees tried to hew closely to historical precedent, many rendered their historical or mythological personage in the sartorial vocabulary they knew best. The [photographs of people in their costumes at the ball offer] a glimpse into how Victorians understood history, not a glimpse into the costume of an authentic historical past."[15] (294)

  • historical dress: beautiful clothing.
  • the range at the ball, from Minnie Paget to Gwladys
  • "In light of such efforts, the ball remains to this day one of the best documented outings of the period, and a quick glance at the album shows that ..."

Women had more choices about their waists than the simple opposition between no corset and tightlacing can accommodate. The range of choices is illustrated in Frith's painting, with a woman locating herself on it at a particular moment for particular reasons. Much analysis of 19th-century corsetry focuses on its sexualizing effects — corsets dominated Victorian photographic pornography [citations] and at the same time, the absence of a corset was sexual because it suggested nudity.[citations] A great deal of analysis of 19th-century corsetry, on the other hand, assumes that women wore corsets for the male gaze [citations] or that they tightened their waists to compete with other women.[citations]

But as we can see in Frith's painting, the sexualizing effect was not universal or sweeping, and these analyses do not account for the choices women had in which corset to wear or how tightly to lace it. Especially given the way that some photographic portraits were mechanically altered to make the waist appear smaller, the size of a woman's waist had to do with how she was presenting herself to the world. That is, the fact that women made choices about the size of or emphasis on their waists suggests that they had agency that needs to be taken into account.

As they navigated the complex social world, women's fashion choices had meaning. Society or political hostesses had agency not only in their clothing but generally in that complex social world. They had roles managing social events of the upper classes, especially of the upper aristocracy and oligarchy, like the Duchess of Devonshire's ball. Their class and rank, then, were essential to their agency, including to some degree their freedom to choose what kind of corset to wear and how to wear it. Also, by the end of the century lots of different kinds of corsets were available for lots of different purposes. Special corsets existed for pregnancy, sports (like tennis, bicycling, horseback riding, golf, fencing, archery, stalking and hunting), theatre and dance and, of course, for these women corsets could be made to support the special dress worn over it.

Women's choices in how they presented themselves to the world included more than just their foundation garments, of course. "Every cap, bow, streamer, ruffle, fringe, bustle, glove," that is, the trim and decorations on their garments, their jewelry and accessories — which Davidoff calls "elaborations"[16]:93 — pointed to a host of status categories, like class, rank, wealth, age, marital status, engagement with the empire, how sexual they wanted to seem, political alignment and purpose at the social event. For example, when women were being presented to the monarch, they were expected to wear three ostrich plumes, often called the Prince of Wales's feathers.

Like all fashions, the corset, which was quite long-lasting in all its various forms, eventually went out of style. Of the many factors that might have influenced its demise, perhaps most important was the women's movement, in which women's rights, freedom, employment and access to their own money and children were less slogan-worthy but at least as essential as votes for women. The activities of the animal-rights movements drew attention not only the profligate use of the bodies and feathers of birds but also the looming extinction of the baleen whale, which made whale bone scarce and expensive. Perhaps the century's debates over corseting and especially tightlacing were relevant to some. And, of course, perhaps no other reason is required than that the nature of fashion is to change.

Cinque Cento[edit | edit source]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Cinque Cento is a shortening of mil cinque cento, or 1500.[17] The term, then would refer, perhaps informally, to the sixteenth century.

Crevé[edit | edit source]

Creve, without the accent, is an old word in English (c. 1450) for burst or split.[18] [With the acute accent, it looks like a past participle in French.]

Elastic[edit | edit source]

Elastic had been invented and was in use by the end of the 19th century. For the sense of "Elastic cord or string, usually woven with india-rubber,"[19] the Oxford English Dictionary has usage examples beginning in 1847. The example for 1886 is vivid: "The thorough-going prim man will always place a circle of elastic round his hair previous to putting on his college cap."[19]

Elaborations[edit | edit source]

In her 1973 The Best Circles: Society, Etiquette and the Season, Leonore Davidoff notes that women’s status was indicated by dress and especially ornament: “Every cap, bow, streamer, ruffle, fringe, bustle, glove and other elaboration,” she says, “symbolised some status category for the female wearer.”[16]:93

Looking at these elaborations as meaningful rather than dismissing them as failed attempts at "historical accuracy" reveals a great deal about the individual women who wore or carried them — and about the society women and political hostesses in their roles as managers of the social world. In her review of The House of Worth: Portrait of an Archive, Mary Frances Gormally says,

In a socially regulated year, garments custom made with a Worth label provided women with total reassurance, whatever the season, time of day or occasion, setting them apart as members of the “Best Circles” dressed in luxurious, fashionable and always appropriate attire (Davidoff 1973). The woman with a Worth wardrobe was a woman of elegance, lineage, status, extreme wealth and faultless taste.[20] (117)

Frou-frou[edit | edit source]

Trim and Lace[edit | edit source]

Gold and Silver Fabric and Lace[edit | edit source]

The Encyclopaedia Britannica (9th edition) has an article on gold and silver fabric, threads and lace attached to the article on gold. (This article is based on knowledge that would have been available toward the end of the 19th century and does not, obviously, reflect current knowledge or ways of talking.)

GOLD AND SILVER LACE. Under this heading a general account may be given of the use of the precious metals in textiles of all descriptions into which they enter. That these metals were used largely in the sumptuous textiles of the earliest periods of civilization there is abundant testimony; and to this day, in the Oriental centres whence a knowledge and the use of fabrics inwoven, ornamented, and embroidered with gold and silver first spread, the passion for such brilliant and costly textiles is still most strongly and generally prevalent. The earliest mention of the use of gold in a woven fabric occurs in the description of the ephod made for Aaron (Exod. xxxix. 2, 3) — "And he made the ephod of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. And they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into wires (strips), to work it in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the fine linen, with cunning work." In both the Iliad and the Odyssey distinct allusion is frequently made to inwoven and embroidered golden textiles. Many circumstances point to the conclusion that the art of weaving and embroidering with gold and silver originated in India, where it is still principally prosecuted, and that from one great city to another the practice travelled westward, — Babylon, Tarsus, Baghdad, Damascus, the islands of Cyprus and Sicily, Con- / stantinople and Venice, all in the process of time becoming famous centres of these much prized manufactures. Alexander the Great found Indian kings and princes arrayed in robes of gold and purple; and the Persian monarch Darius, we are told, wore a war mantle of cloth of gold, on which were figured two golden hawks as if pecking at each other. There is reason, according to Josephus, to believe that the “royal apparel" worn by Herod on the day of his death (Acts xii. 21) was a tissue of silver. Agrippina, the wife of the emperor Claudius, had a robe woven entirely of gold, and from that period downwards royal personages and high ecclesiastical dignitaries used cloth and tissues of gold and silver for their state and ceremonial robes, as well as for costly hangings and decorations. In England, at different periods, various names were applied to cloths of gold, as ciclatoun, tartarium, naques or nac, baudekiu or baldachin, Cyprus damask, and twssewys or tissue. The thin flimsy paper known as tissue paper, is so called because it originally was placed between the folds of gold "tissue" to prevent the contiguous surfaces from fraying each other. At what time the drawing of gold wire for the preparation of these textiles was first practised is not accurately known. The art was probably introduced and applied in different localities at widely different dates, but down till mediaeval times the method graphically described in the Pentateuch continued to be practised with both gold and silver.

Fabrics woven with gold and silver continue to be used on the largest scale to this day in India; and there the preparation of the varieties of wire, and the working of the various forms of lace, brocade, and embroidery, is at once an important and peculiar art. The basis of all modern fabrics of this kind is wire, the "gold wire" of the manufacturer being in all cases silver gilt wire, and silver wire being, of course, composed of pure silver. In India the wire is drawn by means of simple draw-plates, with rude and simple appliances, from rounded bars of silver, or gold-plated silver, as the case may be. The wire is flattened into the strip or ribbon-like form it generally assumes by passing it, fourteen or fifteen strands simultaneously, over a fine, smooth, round-topped anvil, and beating it as it passes with a heavy hammer having a slightly convex surface. From wire so flattened there is made in India soniri, a tissue or cloth of gold, the web or warp being composed entirely of golden strips, and ruperi, a similar tissue of silver. Gold lace is also made on a warp of thick yellow silk with a weft of flat wire, and in the case of ribbons the warp or web is composed of the metal. The flattened wires are twisted around orange (in the case of silver, white) coloured silk thread, so as completely to cover the thread and present the appearance of a continuous wire; and in this form it is chiefly employed for weaving into the rich brocades known as kincobs or kinkhábs. Wires flattened, or partially flattened, are also twisted into exceedingly fine spirals, and in this form they are the basis of numerous ornamental applications. Such spirals drawn out till they present a waved appearance, and in that state flattened, are much used for rich heavy embroideries termed karchobs. Spangles for embroideries, &c., are made from spirals of comparatively stout wire, by cutting them down ring by ring, laying each C-like ring on an anvil, and by a smart blow with a hammer flattening it out into a thin round disk with a slit extending from the centre to one edge. Fine spirals are also used for general embroidery purposes. The demand for various kinds of loom-woven and embroidered gold and silver work in India is immense; and the variety of textiles so ornamented is also very great. "Gold and silver," says Dr Birdwood in his Handbook to the British-Indian Section, Paris Exhibition, 1878, "are worked into the decoration of all the more costly loom-made garments and Indian piece goods, either on the borders only, or in stripes throughout, or in diapered figures. The gold-bordered loom embroideries are made chiefly at Sattara, and the gold or silver striped at Tanjore; the gold figured mashrus at Tanjore, Trichinopoly, and Hyderabad in the Deccau; and the highly ornamented gold-figured silks and gold and silver tissues principally at Ahmedabad, Benares, Murshedabad, and Trichinopoly."

Among the Western communities the demand for gold and silver lace and embroideries arises chiefly in connexion with naval and military uniforms, court costumes, public and private liveries, ecclesiastical robes and draperies, theatrical dresses, and the badges and insignia of various orders. To a limited extent there is a trade in gold wire and lace to India and China. The metallic basis of the various fabrics is wire round and flattened, the wire being of three kinds — 1st, gold wire, which is invariably silver gilt wire; 2d, copper gilt wire, used for common liveries and theatrical purposes; and 3d, silver wire. These wires are drawn by the ordinary processes, and the flattening, when done, is accomplished by passing the wire between a pair of revolving rollers of fine polished steel. The various qualities of wire are prepared and used in precisely the same way as in India, — round wire, flat wire, thread made of flat gold wire twisted round orange-coloured silk or cotton, known in the trade as "orris," fine spirals and spangles, all being in use in the West as in the East. The lace is woven in the same manner as ribbons, and there are very numerous varieties in richness, pattern, and quality. Cloth of gold, and brocades rich in gold and silver, are woven for ecclesiastical vestments and draperies.

The proportions of gold and silver in the gold thread for the lace trade varies, but in all cases the proportion of gold is exceedingly small. An ordinary gold lace wire is drawn from a bar containing 90 parts of silver and 7 of copper, coated with 3 parts of gold. On an average each ounce troy of a bar so plated is drawn into 1500 yards of wire; and therefore about 16 grains of gold cover a mile of wire. It is estimated that about 250,000 ounces of gold wire are made annually in Great Britain, of which about 20 per cent, is used for the headings of calico, muslin, &c., and the remainder is worked up in the gold lace trade.[21]

Honiton Lace[edit | edit source]

Kate Stradsin says,

Honiton lace was the finest English equivalent of Brussels bobbin lace and was constructed in small ‘sprigs, in the cottages of lacemakers[.'] These sprigs were then joined together and bleached to form the large white flounces that were so sought after in the mid-nineteenth century.[22]

Fabric[edit | edit source]

Brocatelle[edit | edit source]

Brocatelle is a kind of brocade, more simple than most brocades because it uses fewer warp and weft threads and fewer colors to form the design. The article in the French Wikipédia defines it like this:

La brocatelle est un type de tissu datant du xvie siècle qui comporte deux chaînes et deux trames, au minimum. Il est composé pour que le dessin ressorte avec un relief prononcé, grâce à la chaîne sur un fond en sergé. Les brocatelles les plus anciennes sont toujours fabriquées avec une des trames en lin.[23]

Which translates to this:

Brocatelle is a type of fabric dating from the 16th century that has two warps and two wefts, at a minimum. It is composed so that the design stands out with a pronounced relief, thanks to the weft threads on a twill background. The oldest brocades were always made with one of the wefts being linen.

The Oxford English Dictionary says, brocatelle is an "imitation of brocade, usually made of silk or wool, used for tapestry, upholstery, etc., now also for dresses. Both the nature and the use of the stuff have changed" between the late 17th century and 1888, the last time this definition was revised.[24]

Broché[edit | edit source]

Ciselé[edit | edit source]

Crépe de Chine[edit | edit source]

The Oxford English Dictionary distinguishes the use of crêpe (using a circumflex rather than an acute accent over the first e) from crape in textiles, saying crêpe is "often borrowed [from the French] as a term for all crapy fabrics other than ordinary black mourning crape,"[25] with usage examples ranging from 1797 to the mid 20th century. Crêpe de chine, it says is "a white or other coloured crape made of raw silk."

Épinglé Velvet[edit | edit source]

Often spelled épingle rather than épinglé, this term appears to have been used for a fabric made of wool, or at least wool along with linen or cotton, that was heavier and stiffer than silk velvet. It was associated with outer garments and men's clothing. Nowadays, épinglé velvet is an upholstery fabric in which the pile is cut into designs and patterns, and the portrait of Mary, Duchess of Hamilton shows a mantle described as épinglé velvet that does seem to be a velvet with a woven pattern perhaps cut into the pile.

Lace[edit | edit source]

While lace also functioned sometimes as fabric — at the décolletage, for example, on the stomacher or as a veil — here we organize it as a part of trim.

Liberty Fabrics[edit | edit source]

Lisse[edit | edit source]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term lisse as a "kind of silk gauze" was used in the 19th-century UK and US.[26]

Selesia[edit | edit source]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, silesia is "A fine linen or cotton fabric originally manufactured in Silesia in what is now Germany (Schlesien).[27] It may have been used as a lining — for pockets, for example — in garments made of more luxurious or more expensive cloth. The word sleazy — "Of textile fabrics or materials: Thin or flimsy in texture; having little substance or body."[28] — may be related.

Fan[edit | edit source]

The Encyclopaedia Britannica (9th edition) has an article on the fan. (This article is based on knowledge that would have been available toward the end of the 19th century and does not, obviously, reflect current knowledge or ways of talking.)

FAN (Latin, vannus; French, éventail), a light implement used for giving motion to the air. Ventilabrum and flabellum are names under which ecclesiastical fans are mentioned in old inventories. Fans for cooling the face have been in use in hot climates from remote ages. A bas-relief in the British Museum represents Sennacherib with female figures carrying feather fans. They were attributes of royalty along with horse-hair fly-flappers and umbrellas. Examples may be seen in plates of the Egyptian sculptures at Thebes and other places, and also in the ruins of Persepolis. In the museum of Boulak, near Cairo, a wooden fan handle showing holes for feathers is still preserved. It is from the tomb of Amen-hotep, of the 18th dynasty, 17th century B.C. In India fans were also attributes of men in authority, and sometimes sacred emblems. A heartshaped fan, with an ivory handle, of unknown age, and held in great veneration by the Hindus, was given to the prince of Wales. Large punkahs or screens, moved by a servant who does nothing else, are in common use by Europeans in India at this day.

Fans were used in the early Middle Ages to keep flies from the sacred elements during the celebrations of the Christian mysteries. Sometimes they were round, with bells attached — of silver, or silver gilt. Notices of such fans in the ancient records of St Paul’s, London, Salisbury cathedral, and many other churches, exist still. For these purposes they are no longer used in the Western church, though they are retained in some Oriental rites. The large feather fans, however, are still carried in the state processions of the supreme pontiff in Rome, though not used during the celebration of the mass. The fan of Queen Theodolinda (7th century) is still preserved in the treasury of the cathedral of Monza. Fans made part of the bridal outfit, or mundus muliebris, of ancient Roman ladies.

Folding fans had their origin in Japan, and were imported thence to China. They were in the shape still used—a segment of a circle of paper pasted on a light radiating frame-work of bamboo, and variously decorated, some in colours, others of white paper on which verses or sentences are written. It is a compliment in China to invite a friend or distinguished guest to write some sentiment on your fan as a memento of any special occasion, and this practice has continued. A fan that has some celebrity in France was presented by the Chinese ambassador to the Comtesse de Clauzel at the coronation of Napoleon I. in 1804. When a site was given in 1635, on an artificial island, for the settlement of Portuguese merchants in Nippo in Japan, the space was laid out in the form of a fan as emblematic of an object agreeable for general use. Men and women of every rank both in China and Japan carry fans, even artisans using them with one hand while working with the other. In China they are often made of carved ivory, the sticks being plates very thin and sometimes carved on both sides, the intervals between the carved parts pierced with astonishing delicacy, and the plates held together by a ribbon. The Japanese make the two outer guards of the stick, which cover the others, occasionally of beaten iron, extremely thin and light, damascened with gold and other metals.

Fans were used by Portuguese ladies in the 14th century, and were well known in England before the close of the reign of Richard II. In France the inventory of Charles V. at the end of the 14th century mentions a folding ivory fan. They were brought into general use in that country by Catherine de’ Medici, probably from Italy, then in advance of other countries in all matters of personal luxury. The court ladies of Henry VIII.’s reign in England were used to handling fans, A lady in the Dance of Death by Holbein holds a fan. Queen Elizabeth is painted with a round leather fan in her portrait at Gorhambury; and as many as twenty-seven are enumerated in her inventory (1606). Coryat, an English traveller, in 1608 describes them as common in Italy. They also became of general use from that time in Spain. In Italy, France, and Spain fans had special conventional uses, and various actions in handling them grew into a code of signals, by which ladies were supposed to convey hints or signals to admirers or to rivals in society. A paper in the Spectator humorously proposes to establish a regular drill for these purposes.

The chief seat of the European manufacture of fans during the 17th century was Paris, where the sticks or frames, whether of wood or ivory, were made, and the decorations painted on mounts of very carefully prepared vellum (called latterly chicken skin, but not correctly), — a material stronger and tougher than paper, which breaks at the folds. Paris makers exported fans unpainted to Madrid and other Spanish cities, where they were decorated by native artists. Many were exported complete; of old fans called Spanish a great number were in fact made in France. Louis XIV. issued edicts at various times to regulate the manufacture. Besides fans mounted with parchment, Dutch fans of ivory were imported into Paris, and decorated by the heraldic painters in the process called “Vernis Martin,” after a famous carriage painter and inventor of colourless lac varnish. Fans of this kind belonging to the Queen and to the late baroness de Rothschild were exhibited in 1870 at Kensington. A fan of the date of 1660, representing sacred subjects, is attributed to Philippe de Champagne, another to Peter Oliver in England in the / 17th century. Cano de Arevalo, a Spanish painter of the 17th century devoted himself to fan painting. Some harsh expressions of Queen Christina to the young ladies of the French court are said to have caused an increased ostentation in the splendour of their fans, which were set with jewels and mounted in gold. Rosalba Carriera was the name of a fan painter of celebrity in the 17th century. Lebrun and Romanelli were much employed during the same period. Klingstet, a Dutch artist, enjoyed a considerable reputation for his fans from the latter part of the 17th and the first thirty years of the 18th century.

The revocation of the edict of Nantes drove many fan-makers out of France to Holland and England. The trade in England was well established under the Stuart sovereigns. Petitions were addressed by the fan-makers to Charles II. against the importation of fans from India, and a duty was levied upon such fans in consequence. This importation of Indian fans, according to Savary, extended also to France. During the reign of Louis XV. carved Indian and China fans displaced to some extent those formerly imported from Italy, which had been painted on swanskin parchment prepared with various perfumes.

During the 18th century all the luxurious ornamentation of the day was bestowed on fans as far as they could display it. The sticks were made of mother-of-pearl or ivory, carved with extraordinary skill in France, Italy, England, and other countries. They were painted from designs of Boucher, Watteau, Lancret, and other "genre" painters, Hébert, Rau, Chevalier, Jean Boquet, Mad. Verité, are known as fan painters. These fashions were followed in most countries of Europe, with certain national differences. Taffeta and silk, as well as fine parchment, were used for the mounts. Little circles of glass were let into the stick to be looked through, and small telescopic glasses were sometimes contrived at the pivot of the stick. They were occasionally mounted with the finest point lace. An interesting fan (belonging to Madame de Thiac in France), the work of Le Flamand, was presented by the municipality of Dieppe to Marie Antoinette on the birth of her son the dauphin. From the time of the Revolution the old luxury expended on fans died out. Fine examples ceased to be exported to England and other countries. The painting on them represented scenes or personages connected with political events. At a later period fan mounts were often prints coloured by hand. The events of the day mark the date of many examples found in modern collections. Amongst the fanmakers of the present time the names of Alexandre, Duvelleroy, Fayet, Vanier, may be mentioned as well known in Paris. The sticks are chiefly made in the department of Oise, at Le Déluge, Crèvecœur, Méry, Ste Geneviève, and other villages, where whole families are engaged in preparing them; ivory sticks are carved at Dieppe. Water-colour painters of distinction often design and paint the mounts, the best designs being figure subjects. A great impulse has been given to the manufacture and painting of fans in England since the exhibition which took place at South Kensington in 1870. Other exhibitions have since been held, and competitive prizes offered, one of which was gained by the Princess Louise. Modern collections of fans take their date from the emigration of many noble families from France at the time of the Revolution. Such objects were given as souvenirs and occasionally sold by families in straitened circumstances. A large number of fans of all sorts, principally those of the 18th century, French, English, German, Italian Spanish, &c., have been lately bequeathed to the South Kensington Museum.

Regarding the different parts of folding fans it may be well to state that the sticks are called in French brins, the two outer guards panaches, and the mount feuille.[29]

Fancy-dress Ball[edit | edit source]

At the Duchess of Devonshire's 1897 fancy-dress ball, the guests came dressed in costume from times before 1820, as instructed on the invitation, but their clothing was much more about late-Victorian standards of beauty and fashion than the standards of whatever time period the portraits they were copying or basing their costumes on.

As Leonore Davidoff says, "Every cap, bow, streamer, ruffle, fringe, bustle, glove and other elaboration symbolised some status category for the female wearer."[16]:93 [handled under Elaborations]

Historical Accuracy[edit | edit source]

Many of the costumes at the ball were based on portraits, especially when the guest was dressed as a historical figure. If possible, we have found the portraits likely to have been the originals, or we have found, if possible, portraits that show the subjects from the two time periods at similar ages.

The way clothing was cut changed quite a bit between the 18th and 19th centuries. We think of Victorian clothing — particularly women's clothing, and particularly at the end of the century — as inflexible and restrictive, especially compared to 20th- and 21st-century customs permitting freedom of movement. The difference is generally evolutionary rather than absolute — that is, as time has passed since the 18th century, clothing has allowed an increasingly greater range of movement, especially for people who did not do manual labor.

By the end of the 19th century, garments like women's bodices and men's coats were made fitted and smooth by attention to the grain of the fabric and by the use of darts (rather than techniques that assembled many small, individual pieces of fabric).

  • clothing construction and flat-pattern techniques
  • Generally, the further back in time we go, the more 2-dimensional the clothing itself was.

Women's Versions of Historical Accuracy at the Ball[edit | edit source]

As always with this ball, whatever historical accuracy might be present in a woman's costume is altered so that the wearer is still a fashionable Victorian lady. What makes the costumes look "Victorian" to our eyes is the line of the silhouette caused by the foundation undergarments as well as the many "elaborations"[16]:93, mostly in the decorations, trim and accessories.

Also, the clothing hangs and drapes differently because the fabric was cut on grain and the shoulders were freed by the way the sleeves were set in.

Men's Versions of Historical Accuracy at the Ball[edit | edit source]

Because men were not wearing a Victorian foundation garment at the end of the century, the men's costumes at the ball are more historically accurate in some ways.

  • Trim
  • Mixing neck treatments
  • Hair
  • Breeches
  • Shoes and boots
  • Military uniforms, arms, gloves, boots

Feathers and Plumes[edit | edit source]

Prince of Wales's Feathers or White Plumes[edit | edit source]

A fuller discussion of Prince of Wales's feathers and the white ostrich plumes worn at court appears on Victorian Things.

For much of the late 18th and 19th centuries, white ostrich plumes were central to fashion at court, and at a certain point they became required for women being presented to the monarch and for their sponsors. Our purpose here is to understand why women were wearing plumes at the Duchess of Devonshire's 1897 fancy-dress ball as part of their costumes.

First published in 1893, Lady Colin Campbell's Manners and Rules of Good Society (1911 edition) says that

It was compulsory for both Married and Unmarried Ladies to Wear Plumes. The married lady’s Court plume consisted of three white feathers. An unmarried lady’s of two white feathers. The three white feathers should be mounted as a Prince of Wales plume and worn towards the left hand side of the head. Colored feathers may not be worn. In deep mourning, white feathers must be worn, black feathers are inadmissible. White veils or lace lappets must be worn with the feathers. The veils should not be longer than 45 inches.[30]

This fashion was imported from France in the mid 1770s.[31]

Separately, a secondary heraldic emblem of the Prince of Wales has been a specific arrangement of 3 ostrich feathers in a gold coronet[32] since King Edward III (1312–1377[33]).

Some women at the Duchess of Devonshire's 1897 fancy-dress ball wore white ostrich feathers in their hair, but most of them are not Prince of Wales's feathers. Most of the plumes in these portraits are arrangements of some kind of headdress to accompany the costume. A few, wearing what looks like the Princes of Wales's feathers, might be signaling that their character is royal or has royal ancestry. One of the women [which one?] was presented to the royals at this ball?

Here is the list of women who are wearing white ostrich plumes in their portraits in the Diamond Jubilee Fancy Dress Ball album of 286 photogravure portraits:

  1. Kathleen Pelham-Clinton, the Duchess of Newcastle
  2. Luise Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire
  3. Jesusa Murrieta del Campo Mello y Urritio (née Bellido), Marquisa de Santurce
  4. Lady Emilie Farquhar
  5. Princess (Laura Williamina Seymour) Victor of  Hohenlohe Langenburg
  6. Louisa Acheson, Lady Gosford
  7. Alice Emily White Coke, Viscountess Coke
  8. Lady Mary Stewart, Helen Mary Theresa Vane-Tempest-Stewart
  9. Consuelo Vanderbilt Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, dressed as the wife of the French Ambassador at the Court of Catherine of Russia (not white, but some color that reads dark in the black-and-white photograph)
  10. Mrs. Mary Chamberlain (at 491), wearing white plumes, as Madame d'Epinay
  11. Lady Clementine Hay (at 629), wearing white plumes, as St. Bris (Les Huguenots)
  12. Lady Meysey-Thompson (at 391), wearing white plumes, as Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia
  13. Mrs. Algernon (Catherine) Grosvenor (at 510), wearing white plumes, as Marie Louise
  14. Lady Evelyn Ewart, at 401), wearing white plumes, as the Duchess of Ancaster, Mistress of the Robes to Queen Charlotte, 1757, after a picture by Hudson
  15. Edith Sophy Balfour Lyttelton (at 580), wearing what might be white plumes on a large-brimmed white hat, after a picture by Romney
  16. Emilia Yznaga (at 360), wearing what might be white plumes, as Cydalise of the Comedie Italienne from the time of Louis XV
  17. Lady Muriel Fox Strangways (at 403), wearing what might be two smallish white plumes, as Lady Sarah Lennox, one of the bridesmaids of Queen Charlotte A.D. 1761
  18. Lady Violet Bingham (at 586), wearing perhaps one white plume in a headdress not related to the Prince of Wales's feathers
  19. Rosamond Fellowes, Lady de Ramsey (at 329), wearing a headdress that includes some white plumes, as Lady Burleigh
  20. Agnes Blanche Marie Hay-Drummond (at 682), in a big headdress topped with white plumes, as Mademoiselle Andrée de Taverney A.D. 1775
  21. Florence Canning, Lady Garvagh (at 336), wearing what looks like Prince of Wales's plumes
  22. Marguerite Hyde "Daisy" Leiter (at 684), wearing what looks like Prince of Wales's plumes
  23. Lady Margaret Spicer (at 281), wearing one smallish white and one black plume, as Countess Zinotriff, Lady-in-Waiting to the Empress Catherine of Russia
  24. Mrs. Arthur James (at 318), wearing what looks like Prince of Wales's plumes, as Elizabeth Cavendish, daughter of Bess of Hardwick
  25. Nellie, Countess of Kilmorey (at 207), wearing three tall plumes, 2 white and one dark, as Comtesse du Barri
  26. Daisy, Countess of Warwick (at 53), wearing at least 1 white plume, as Marie Antoinette

More men than women were wearing plumes reminiscent of the Prince of Wales's feathers:

Bibliography for Plumes and Prince of Wales's Feathers[edit | edit source]

Honors[edit | edit source]

The Bath[edit | edit source]

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (GCB, Knight or Dame Grand Cross; KCB or DCB, Knight or Dame Commander; CB, Companion)

The Garter[edit | edit source]

The Most Noble Order of the Knights of the Garter (KG, Knight Companion; LG, Lady Companion)

Recent photograph of a gold necklace on a wide band, with a gold skin of a sheep hanging from it as a pendant
The Golden Fleece collar and pendant for the 2019 "Last Knight" exhibition at the MET, NYC.

The Golden Fleece[edit | edit source]

To wear the golden fleece is to wear the insignia of the Order of the Golden Fleece, said to be "the most prestigious and historic order of chivalry in the world" because of its long history and strict limitations on membership.[34] The monarchs of the U.K. were members of the originally Spanish order, as were others who could afford it, like the Duke of Wellington,[35] the first Protestant to be admitted to the order.[34] Founded in 1429/30 by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, the order separated into two branches in 1714, one Spanish and the other Austrian, still led by the House of Habsburg.[34]

1842 Portrait of Prince Albert by Winterhalter, wearing the insignia of the Golden Fleece
1842 Winterhalter portrait of Prince Albert wearing the insignia of the Order of the Golden Fleece, 1842

The photograph (upper right) is of a Polish badge dating from the "turn of the XV and XVI centuries."[36] The collar to this Golden Fleece might be similar to the one the Duke of Devonshire is wearing in the 1897 Lafayette portrait.

The badges and collars that Knights of the Order actually wore vary quite a bit.

The 1842 Franz Xaver Winterhalter portrait (left) of Prince Consort Albert, Victoria's husband and father of the Prince of Wales, shows him wearing the Golden Fleece on a red ribbon around his neck and the star of the Garter on the front of his coat.[37]

Royal Victorian Order[edit | edit source]

(GCVO, Knight or Dame Grand Cross; KCVO or DCVO, Knight or Dame Commander; CVO, Commander; LVO, Lieutenant; MVO, Member)

St. John[edit | edit source]

The Order of the Knights of St. John

Star of India[edit | edit source]

Most Exalted Order of the Star of India (GCSI, Knight Grand Commander; KCSI, Knight Commander; CSI, Companion)

Thistle[edit | edit source]

The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle

Jewelry and Stones[edit | edit source]

Cabochon[edit | edit source]

This term describes both the treatment and shape of a precious or semiprecious stone. A cabochon treatment does not facet the stone but merely polishes it, removing "the rough parts" and the parts that are not the right stone.[38] A cabochon shape is often flat on one side and oval or round, forming a mound in the setting.

Jet[edit | edit source]

Orfèvrerie[edit | edit source]

Sometimes misspelled in the newspapers as orvfèvrerie. Orfèvrerie is the artistic work of a goldsmith, silversmith, or jeweler.

Military[edit | edit source]

Several men from the Duchess of Devonshire's 1897 fancy-dress ball at Devonshire House were dressed in military uniforms, some historical and some, possibly, not.

Baldric[edit | edit source]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the primary sense of baldric is "A belt or girdle, usually of leather and richly ornamented, worn pendent from one shoulder across the breast and under the opposite arm, and used to support the wearer's sword, bugle, etc."[39] This sense has been in existence since c. 1300.

Cuirass[edit | edit source]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the primary sense of cuirass is "A piece of armour for the body (originally of leather); spec. a piece reaching down to the waist, and consisting of a breast-plate and a back-plate, buckled or otherwise fastened together ...."[40]

An Old drawing in color of British soldiers on horses brandishing swords in 1815.
1890 illustration of the Household Cavalry (Life Guard, left; Horse Guard, right) at the Battle of Waterloo, 1815

Household Cavalry[edit | edit source]

The Royal Household contains the Household Cavalry, a corps of British Army units assigned to the monarch. It is made up of 2 regiments, the Life Guards and what is now called The Blues and Royals, which were formed around the time of "the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660."[41]:1 Regimental Historian Christopher Joll says, "the original Life Guards were formed as a mounted bodyguard for the exiled King Charles II, The Blues were raised as Cromwellian cavalry and The Royals were established to defend Tangier."[41]:1–2 The 1st and 2nd Life Guards were formed from "the Troops of Horse and Horse Grenadier Guards ... in 1788."[41]:3 The Life Guards were and are still official bodyguards of the queen or king, but through history they have been required to do quite a bit more than serve as bodyguards for the monarch.

The Household Cavalry fought in the Battle of Waterloo on Sunday, 18 June 1815 as heavy cavalry.[41]:3 Besides arresting the Cato Steet conspirators in 1820 "and guarding their subsequent execution," the Household Cavalry contributed to the "the expedition to rescue General Gordon, who was trapped in Khartoum by The Mahdi and his army of insurgents" in 1884.[41]:3 In 1887 they "were involved ... in the suppression of rioters in Trafalgar Square on Bloody Sunday."[41]:3

Grenadier Guards[edit | edit source]

Three men — Lord Algernon Gordon-Lennox, Lord Stanley, and Hon. F. C. Stanley — attended the ball as officers of the Grenadier Guards, wearing "scarlet tunics, ... full blue breeches, scarlet hose and shoes, lappet wigs" as well as items associated with weapons and armor.[42]:p. 34, Col. 2a

Founded in England in 1656 as Foot Guards, this infantry regiment "was granted the 'Grenadier' designation by a Royal Proclamation" at the end of the Napoleonic Wars.[43] They were not called Grenadier Guards, then, before about 1815. In 1660, the Stuart Restoration, they were called Lord Wentworth's Regiment, because they were under the command of Thomas Wentworth, 5th Baron Wentworth.[44]

At the time of Lord Wentworth's Regiment, the style of the French cavalier had begun to influence wealthy British royalists. In the British military, a Cavalier was a wealthy follower of Charles I and Charles II — a commander, perhaps, or a field officer, but probably not a soldier.[45]

The Guards were busy as infantry in the 17th century, engaging in a number of armed conflicts for Great Britain, but they also served the sovereign. According to the Guards Museum,

In 1678 the Guards were ordered to form Grenadier Companies, these men were the strongest and tallest of the regiment, they carried axes, hatches and grenades, they were the shock troops of their day. Instead of wearing tri-corn hats they wore a mitre shaped cap.[46]

The name comes from grenades, then, and we are accustomed to seeing them in front of Buckingham Palace, with their tall mitre hats. The Guard fought in the American Revolution, and in the 19th century, the Grenadier Guards fought in the Crimean War, Sudan and the Boer War. They have roles as front-line troops and as ceremonial for the sovereign, which makes them elite:

Queen Victoria decreed that she did not want to see a single chevron soldier within her Guards. Other then [sic] the two senior Warrant Officers of the British Army, the senior Warrant Officers of the Foot Guards wear a large Sovereigns personal coat of arms badge on their upper arm. No other regiments of the British Army are allowed to do so; all the others wear a small coat of arms of their lower arms. Up until 1871 all officers in the Foot Guards had the privilege of having double rankings. An Ensign was ranked as an Ensign and Lieutenant, a Lieutenant as Lieutenant and Captain and a Captain as Captain and Lieutenant Colonel. This was because at the time officers purchased their own ranks and it cost more to purchase a commission in the Foot Guards than any other regiments in the British Army. For example if it cost an officer in the Foot Guards £1,000 for his first rank, in the rest of the Army it would be £500 so if he transferred to another regiment he would loose [sic] £500, hence the higher rank, if he was an Ensign in the Guards and he transferred to a Line Regiment he went in at the higher rank of Lieutenant.[47]

Life Guards[edit | edit source]

General the Hon. Reginald Talbot, a member of the 1st Life Guards, attended the Duchess of Devonshire's ball dressed in the uniform of his regiment during the Battle of Waterloo.[42]:p. 36, Col. 3b

At the Battle of Waterloo the 1st Life Guards were part of the 1st Brigade — the Household Brigade — and were commanded by Major-General Lord Edward Somerset.[48] The 1st Life Guards were on "the extreme right" of a French countercharge and "kept their cohesion and consequently suffered significantly fewer casualties."[48]

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. "péplum". Wiktionnaire, le dictionnaire libre. 2021-07-02.
  2. 2.0 2.1 “peplum, n.”. Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, September 2023, <>.
  3. "revers, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2023, Accessed 17 April 2023.
  4. "revers". Wiktionnaire. 2023-03-07.
  5. Webb, Geoffrey. “Notes on Hubert Le Sueur-II.” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 52, no. 299 (1928): 81–89.
  6. "Cavalier poet". Wikipedia. 2023-04-25.
  7. "Collerette (costume)". Wikipédia. 2021-06-26.ècle+:+la+Chérusque.
  8. "corsage, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, December 2022, Accessed 7 February 2023.
  9. "mancheron, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2023, Accessed 17 April 2023.
  10. "Manche (vêtement)". Wikipédia. 2022-11-28.
  11. "Dress Codes". Retrieved 2023-07-27.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Vertugadin". Wikipédia. 2022-03-12.
  13. Frith, William Powell. My Autobiography and Reminiscences. 1887.
  14. Calvert, Robyne Erica. Fashioning the Artist: Artistic Dress in Victorian Britain 1848-1900. Ph.D. thesis, University of Glasgow, 2012.
  15. Mitchell, Rebecca N. "The Victorian Fancy Dress Ball, 1870–1900." Fashion Theory 2017 (21: 3): 291–315. DOI: 10.1080/1362704X.2016.1172817.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Davidoff, Leonore. The Best Circles: Society Etiquette and the Season. Intro., Victoria Glendinning. The Cressett Library (Century Hutchinson), 1986 (orig 1973).
  17. "cinquecento, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, December 2022, Accessed 7 February 2023.
  18. "creve, v." OED Online, Oxford University Press, December 2022, Accessed 8 February 2023.
  19. 19.0 19.1 “elastic, adj. & n.”.  Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press,  September 2023, <>.
  20. Gormally, Mary Frances. Review essay of The House of Worth: Portrait of an Archive, by Amy de la Haye and Valerie D. Mendes (V&A Publishing, 2014). Fashion Theory 2017 (21, 1): 109–126. DOI: 10.1080/1362704X.2016.1179400.
  21. William Chandler Roberts-Austen and H. Bauerman [W.C.R. — H.B.]. "Gold and Silver Lace." In "Gold." Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th Edition (1875–1889). Vol. 10 (X). Adam and Charles Black (Publisher). (accessed January 2023): 753, Col. 2c – 754, Cols. 1a–b – 2a–b.
  22. Strasdin, Kate. "Rediscovering Queen Alexandra’s Wardrobe: The Challenges and Rewards of Object-Based Research." The Court Historian 24.2 (2019): 181-196. Rpt 13, and (for the little quotation) n. 37, which reads "Margaret Tomlinson, Three Generations in the Honiton Lace Trade: A Family History, self-published, 1983."
  23. "Brocatelle". Wikipédia. 2023-06-01.
  24. "brocatelle, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2023, Accessed 4 July 2023.
  25. "crêpe, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, December 2022, Accessed 10 February 2023.
  26. "lisse, n.1." OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2023, Accessed 4 July 2023.
  27. "Silesia, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, December 2022, Accessed 9 February 2023.
  28. "sleazy, adj." OED Online, Oxford University Press, December 2022, Accessed 9 February 2023.
  29. J. H. Pollen [J.H.P.]. "Fan." Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th Edition (1875–1889). Vol. 10 (X). Adam and Charles Black (Publisher). (accessed January 2023): 27, Col. 1b – 28, Col. 1c.
  30. Holl, Evangeline (2007-12-07). "The Court Presentation". Edwardian Promenade. Retrieved 2022-12-18.
  31. "Abstract" for Blackwell, Caitlin. "'The Feather'd Fair in a Fright': The Emblem of the Feather in Graphic Satire of 1776." Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 20 January 2013 (Vol. 36, Issue 3): 353-376. Wiley Online DOI: (accessed November 2022).
  32. "Prince of Wales's feathers". Wikipedia. 2022-11-07.'s_feathers.
  33. "Edward III of England". Wikipedia. 2022-12-14.
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