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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The thoughtful dresser

While peering through the shelves at the local library for their copy of Carl Kohler's "The History of Costume", I pulled out Linda Grant's book "The Thoughtful Dresser".
I've just finished reading it and it did make me think.
It made me re-evaluate my ideas about clothes and fashion. And why we choose what we wear. And how. It made me think about the impact of fashion, of clothes, of social movements, of history and what they mean to us. 
I have been through stages in my life when I honestly didn't care what I threw on and other times when it was all about being practical but there are times and more and more recently when I've been paying a whole lot more attention to what I wear.  To what my clothes say about me. To what I want my clothes to say about me.
While it was thought provoking it was also easy to read. And it touched me. It made me laugh and cry, ultimately at the same time.
So thankyou Linda Grant. It was a fascinating read. It opened my mind, even the bits I didn't agree with!
I highly recommend it!
And Linda, I'm heading for Armani!
You can check out Linda's blog at

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fortune telling cup

Not 18th century alas but lovely nevertheless.  And it fits in with my love of all things 'Tea' and has a regency pattern!
Killing some time in a thrift shop the other day I saw this lovely little teacup.  The saucer doesn't match but that doesn't worry me. 
I don't know whether I saw the cards printed on the inside first or the regency style pattern on the outside in a lovely shade of green.  It doesn't matter because the combination was fatal.  Inside the rim is printed "The cup of knowledge".  This had to be a fortune telling cup.  No, I had never heard of them but it made sense.
When I checked out the makers details online I discovered what seemed to be a craze for this kind of teacup in the teens and 1920s with makers including Aynsley and Meakin as well as the one I have from Jackson & Gosling made in 1924.
They even came with little booklets on how to use the cup to tell a fortune. I certainly consider it good fortune in chancing upon it!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Trawling auction websites

I fear I am becoming seriously deranged. I have started trawling auction websites looking at 18th century clothing. No I don't imagine anything would fit me or my pocket, but the pictures are wonderful and who knows maybe there is a stomacher out there waiting for me!  Or some flounces.  And condition isn't important. I gave up on perfection many moons ago. I love the patina of age and the wear and tear of years of use. There is something truly warm about objects long used. 
I am tempted to have a go at making a stomacher independent of anything else, because, well, I think I could. Just a simple shape but I could embroider and embellish it.  They always looked vastly elegant to me!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kohler and THAT SACQUE

This is THE DRESS that probably sucked me into the vortex of the 18th century.  I liked historical costumes - no question but when I saw this image in "The History of Costume" by Carl Kohler, that was it!
I mean, have you ever, in all your days, seen anything quite so elegant???
It is many years ago and I have wanted one ever since.  I wish the image was in colour because I love the pattern and would love to see it in more detail. Does anyone know if it is still in the same collection?
Re-enacting is not big here so even contemplating having a dress like this has remained a dream, but it's inching closer.  I have to put the dream out there for it to happen. After all I found a patchbox, I found mother of pearl gaming chips, I found a wig, and thanks to American Duchess soon I will have shoes!
Yes I want a sacque dress, but I wonder about the fit and comfort level because it has to be said, I was blessed and blessed and blessed in the chest department and stays don't look very comfortable to me. Squashing those parts of me flat doesn't appeal at all.   And while the idea of historical accuracy is nice, frankly comfort is going to win hands down in a face off.
So is there anyone out there in a similar situation (and of a similar Queenly stature) who can give me the benefit of their experience?

Friday, February 4, 2011


I have tried to edit some earlier posts to improve readability with mixed results - sometimes things work and sometimes they don't.  The formatting becomes erratic to say the least.  Fonts don't want to change, sizes pretend to be larger and come out smaller. It's not Adobe, that's for sure!
Will continue to work on it to improve things.  Please bear with me.  And let me know what you think works and what doesn't. I'm keen to make it easy to view, read, find things - well you get the drift.  And still be attractive.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Red heels

It's amazing where information turns up.  I recently blogged about 18th century French Court Dolls - and a book by M. François Theimer.
In it he states that red heels were introduced to France by Louis XIV and were reserved for court nobles but the rule was less strictly applied under Louis XIV and extended even to a number of those close to the royal sphere.
Further he says that while the true origin of this custom remains vague there is a commonly recounted legend with intriguing origins and some confusion as to whether it was Louis or in fact his brother Philippe d'Orleans who was the genesis.
The legend recounted has Philippe who enjoyed a penchant for disguise attending a masquerade with friends. Dressed in pastels, the only real difference between him and his companions being the height of his shoes as he was not tall. He was however recognised and denied the pleasure of being incognito and so moved on to the Marche des Innocents near the abattoirs. He and his companions went from tavern to tavern (18th century pub crawl) crossing and recrossing the area where livestock were butchered their heels becoming quite stained with blood. (Why only their heels I have no idea but then it's a legend.)
Returning to Versailles in the morning he found himself late for an audience with his brother the King who did not appreciate being kept waiting and so only stopped to change his waistcoat and jacket.
The day went on normally and in the evening his dress changed completely to gamble with the King he was astonished to see not one, not two but three or more gentlemen wearing shoes with red heels.  When asked their significance he was asked had he not worn red heels that morning to meet the King.
And so the legend goes.


Well destructive as it was, North Queensland survived Yasi much better than I could have dreamt. I expected a Katrina like toll which we have been spared.  Now for more flooding and cleanup and rebuilding.  There will be pain and there are reports of two people missing and I hope to goodness they are found safe and well.  But no fatalities so far and I am thankful!
I am full of admiration for the wonderful work of our authorities, the Queensland Police, Firies, Ambos, SES, Army and so many others and the wonderful people of the far north who just got on with it and took the appropriate precautions.  You are amazing people.
We will return to 18th century blogging now.