Jul 19, 2012

The Regency Pelisse

The pelisse, essentially a long coat, came in to fashion in the early 1800s to replace the heavier, more tailored redingote.

pe·lisse
Noun:
  1. A woman's cloak with armholes or sleeves, reaching to the ankles.
  2. A fur-lined cloak, esp. as part of a hussar's uniform.
In 1803 the Gentleman's Magazine reported on the wedding of Lady Georgiana Gordon to the Duke of Bedford, writing that the lady wore:
a muslin dress of the finest fabric... and ... previous to her departure for Woburn, she wore an elegant fringed muslin pelisse, lined with sarsenet, and trimmed with lace of great value.
As early as 1810 we read in La Belle Assemblee:
[Pelisses] are still made to fit tight to the shape, to button down the front with small raised silk buttons, left broad over the bosom and shoulders, but sloped in something narrower to the fall of the back behind...We have seen several elegant women in fine black cloth pelisses, ornamented with the narrowest gold braiding.
In May of 1810, Ackermann's quotes from a letter:
Pelisses, as is usual at this season are in much request. They are chiefly composed of twill sarsnets, either shot or figured; some reaching to the feet, clasped at regular distances from the throat to the bottom; others are of a demi-length, rounded at the ends and confined with festooned ropes of floss silk with tassels in the center.
Ackerman's Repository is quoted in August 1810 as mentioning: 
A plain muslin short pelisse, trimmed with [vandyke lace].
La Belle Assemblee, again writes in 1810:
...we have nothing more approved to offer than the fine sprigged India muslin pelisse, lined with pale pink, straw, blue, or lavender, and trimmed entirely around with a narrow lace edging...
In September of 1816, however, the Repository of Arts was advising:
">Muslin pelisses, so elegant and so appropriate to the season, have, from the coolness and humidity of the weather, been entirely laid aside. 
We read in The Mirror of Fashion in August 1817 that:
pelisses are still considered as elegant for the promenade costume... and ... a pelisse of blue and white shot sarsnet, lined with white sarsnet, and trimmed with white satin.

The Ladies Monthly Museum of October 1817 indicates that pelisses are becoming more fitted:
Silk pelisses begin to be generally adopted for walking dresses.
In 1818 the Lady's Monthly Museum reported that: 

3 comments:

Lady D said...

What fabrics were pelisses made of?

Aylwen Gardiner-Garden said...

The most common reference I've read in these quotes is sarsnet. And according to Candice Hern at http://www.candicehern.com/bookshelf/glossary.htm, it is "a thin twilled fabric which uses different colors in the warp and weft, thus allowing the fabric to subtly change colors as it moves. Though it is sometimes spelled sarsenet or sarcenet, the fashion magazines of the Regency period almost always use the spelling sarsnet."
I have a pelisse in my collection that is made of silk, and quilted with wool batting.

Aylwen Gardiner-Garden said...

According to Kathy Hammel at http://locutus.ucr.edu/~cathy/wrap/wraps.html
"Choice of fabric for pelisses and spencers was dictated largely by the season. In the Spring months, the pelisse might be fashioned of silk, satin or light velvets; in the summer, lighter fabrics, such as sarsnet, light silks, or even muslin might be employed. Winter, of course, brought out the fur lined velvets and wools."

Her page has heaps more information than mine - well worth going and reading if you haven't seen it yet.

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