The Lady’s Book.
Philadelphia Fashions for July, 1831.
First Figure.—Dress of transparent crape over a white Florence. Sleeves of blond or bobbinet, very wide and full, finished with cuffs and epaulettes of the same material as the dress. Hair in large folds and bows, with no other ornament than a white rose.
Second Figure.—Dress of painted muslin. Canezon handkerchief of French worlds muslin. Grenadine scarf. Bonnet, with a round crow of white gros de nap, and a front of coloured woodlawn ; folds of wood-lawn go nearly round the crown. The trimming is of white gauze riband, edged and figured with the same colour as the wood-lawn ; each bow being finished with a knot at the bottom.
The child’s dress is a frock, pantalets and cape of cambric muslin, with a narrow border of coloured braiding. A straw hat.
Today we are looking at a plate from July of 1831. I am very fortunate to have in my collection several very early editions of The Lady's Book which would later become Godey's Lady's Book. In the early to mid 1830s, there are usually only 2 fashion plates per 6 month volume. Even into the 1840s, not every month has a plate and they often do not have description. Other magazines, such as the Lady's Cabinet, have four plates per month with descriptions making them a better bang for your buck if you are only interested in fashion. However, Godey's is so much more than a fashion magazine. Within its pages, you will find works from authors like Edgar Allan Poe and Nathanial Hawthorne, sheet music, architectural plans, and so many other things that make it a great place to examine cultural history.
Looking at this particular plate, there are so many details to see. I love the hairstyles, the matching trim on the child's pantalets and dress, the length of the shawl, the jewelry, the tiny handbag the child holds, and so many other things. If one thing in particular really stands out, it is the bonnets (or maybe that is just because of my bonnet problem). They are crazy, almost like wearing a pizza pan on your head or the bonnet in the PBS series Sanditon that everyone freaked out about. (They were over a decade fashion forward, but guess what? that crazy thing actually was a style.) We are very fortunate that this plate actually has a description. Like many fashion plates, the colors do not match the description. The rose in the woman's hair is supposed to be white. The ribbon on the bonnet is also supposed to be white. The dress on the bonneted figure is "of painted muslin". The plate as a whole makes me want to start a new early 1830's impression. Who is with me?