Fashion Meets Scientific Progress: The “Spy Fan”

Fans are so much more than fashionable accessories: They are useful for flirting, can cool heated cheeks or hide an unladylike emotion. In the wake of the Napoleonic War, their usefulness was boosted beyond the known limit when fans were made for spying, i.e. discretely observing the surrounding or other persons. I found some examples of these extraordinary devices when I visited the exhibition “Waterloo: Life & Times” of the Fan Museum in Greenwich, UK.

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Fashion for a Fashionable Item

Hand-held fans, previously reserved for royalty and aristocrats, become a must-have accessory for every lady in high society at the end of the 17th century. The trend to carry a fan spreads rapidly through society. With this, the decoration of the fan leave becomes light-hearted: The religious and classical motifs give way to pastoral scenes, al fresco parties, and themes of love-and-courtship. Interestingly, fashion itself also features on the fashionable accessories, serving as a fashion plate and fashion statement.

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When weighing became ultimately fashionable – for men

In this post:

  • Early Weight Watchers
  • The secret knowlegde of the Weighing Book
  • Dieting with Lord Byron

A softly rounded, plumb, curvaceous and voluptuous body was considered healthy and beautiful for most of the 18th century. Nevertheless, with the rise of the ideals of ancient Greek in fashion and design, the athletic body of an Olympian shifted into focus. Fashionable skin-tight pantaloons revealed every muscle of the male leg, the perfectly-cut coat looked best on broad shoulders. To create a specific volume, men wore padded under-structures round the shoulders and calves, and a corset helped to accentuate a man’s waist.

The well-proportioned male body became an object of fashion and health. But how to measure the body weight? Bathroom scales were not yet around, not even for the rich. People had to pay to be weighed at the doctors. Thus, it came in handy for High Society men of London that a wine shop started offering the service to its customers for free in 1765. Actually, weighing became extremely fashionable. Continue reading

Unique Fans Related to Historic Events of the 18th Century

Hand-held fans of the 18th century were more than an accessory. They often commemorated political milestones, were a display of loyalty and patriotism, and celebrated popular social and scientific events.

For this post, I have compiled 8 fans related to historic events of the 18th century for you. Enjoy the beauty and singularity of the objects, and marvel at the craftsmanship.

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Ladies‘ Fashion: The Gown in the Romantic Age

bild1Women’s gowns changed significantly throughout the Romantic Age. Until about 1780, France had been the ‘Kingdom of fashion’. Everybody had copied French designs and styles. With the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon to power, three things happened:

  • Aristocratic fashion with its excessive use of lace, brocade and silk fell out-of favour. Fashion adopted ideas of freedom, love of nature and early-democratic cultures such as Roman and Grecian antiquity.
  • French fashion leaders and their modistes fled from Paris to London. London became the new centre of fashion.
  • Napoleon’s Continental System blocked England from its previous market places for cloth. England’s search for new commercial partners led to the discovery of new fabrics for fashion. These allowed for new styles and cuts.

I have compiled a selection of photos of beautiful women’s gowns of 1740 – 1825. Follow me to the world of ladies’ fashion. Continue reading

A Time Traveller’s Adventure: At the Opening of Norfolk House

music-room-ceilingDear Regency Enthusiast

Let’s leave the Romantic Age for one glamorous evening and go to the mid 18th century. We shall discover one of the major society events of the year 1756: The opening of Norfolk House in London.

Follow me to ‘All Things Georgian’, the brilliant website of Sarah Murden and Joanne Major, history detectives and acclaimed authoresses. Sarah and Joanne kindly feature my guest post about a grand event and 6 tips to succeed there as time travelling guests of the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk.

Please click here to go to the post and find out more.

Best regards,

Anna M. Thane

The World of Fashion in the 18th Century – Part 1: Accessories for Gentlemen

1798 Dress SwordCourt suits, breeches and waistcoats of the 18th century are highly aesthetic. They are, however, incomplete without the matching accessories. Therefore, stockings, dress swords, watches, buttons, etc. are in the spotlight of today’s post. I have compiled a selection of photos of these beautiful fashion items, so follow me to the world of accessories for gentlemen. Continue reading