1817 December Black Walking Mourning Dress, English. Black bombazine dress with a black crepe hem, with tight bodice wrapping across to the right side, trimmed with a piping of black crape that looks like braiding and finished by rosettes of crape, in the center of each of which is a small jet ornament. Long sleeves trimmed similarly at the wrists, half-sleeve of a new form trimmed with crape, high standing collar displaying a mourning ruff. Claremont bonnet, named because it is the same shape as one worn by the Princess, whose home with her husband, Prince Leopold, was called Claremont. Black crape over black sarsnet and lined with double white crape. Low crown but large front and tastefully finished by black crape with a bunch of crape flowers on one side. Black shamois gloves, and black shoes. “We have again to acknowledge our obligations to the lady who favored us last month; and we understand that the dresses from which our prints this month have been taken were also purchased from Mrs. Bell of St. James’s-street.” Fashion Plate via Rudolph Ackermann’s ‘The Repository of Arts’.
Mrs. Bell ‘invented’ fashion plates and as well as publishing in La Belle assemblee, she also sold them to other magazines. Hence the crossover we often see where the same plate, or a similar version, appears in different magazines.
1812 February Winter Walking Dress, English. Scarlet Merino wool pelisse lined with straw colored sarsnet, trimmed with light colored spotted fur attached with loops of black silk cordon and rich frog tassels, broad fur in front forming a tippet, pointed at back, narrow fur passes from top of sleeves, worn over a white dress, yellow winter hat, gray gloves, and paisley shawl. Fashion Plate via John Belle’s La Belle Assemblee.
Definition Merino Wool: Finest quality wool, originating in Spain. Just before and during the Regency, Merino sheep were exported from Spain into Britain and other parts of Europe. Napoleon supported Merino growth in France. In 1808, after French invaded Spain, King George purchased additional 2000 Merinos for royal flock but Britain too wet for thriving industry. Other countries i.e. Australia, began producing fine quality Merino.
I can picture Jane Austen and her female friends and family wearing a Pelisse, or Walking Dress, Or Redingote, like this to keep them warm when shopping or paying visits to friends. During the Regency Era, out door activities were encouraged and outside clothing needed to be more practical and with thicker fabrics, such as Merino wool. Tunics gave an additional layer to thin dresses and walking dresses, pelisses, Redingotes and half cloaks were worn and accessorized with cashmere shawls and oversized fur muffs.
1810 Couple In Walking Dress, French. Lady in a jade green Redingote, or coat, with paisley skirt, worn over a white dress with sleeves caught up, and hat tied under her chin. Man in a brown tailcoat, tight white pants that button down the sides, black hat and shoes and carrying a walking stick. Fashion Plate via Journal des Dames et des Modes, or Costume Parisien.
The sort of outfits a lady and gentleman in Jane Austen’s times would have worn while out walking, shopping, or going to visit friends.
Pelisse, or Walking Dress, or Redingote. The Fashion Dictionary description of a Redingote is (réd’ing-göt; red ing gote). Pronounced: red ing gote Woman’s long, fitted coat often cut Princess style and worn open in front to show off the dress underneath. Sometimes cut away in front. Originally made for men with several capes and trimmed with large buttons. French word developed from English words, riding coat. reefer. Single- or double-breasted, fitted, tailored, over-all coat usually made from sturdy fabric but in the British Regency Era a Pelisse was often made from a lighter fabric, such as cotton.
1809 Blue Redingote, French. Back view of walking coat with military style trim, upstanding collar, white hat, black shoes and a handkerchief. Fashion Plate via Journal des Dames et des Modes, or Costume Parisien.
Redingotes or Pelisses were needed to cover the flimsy dresses made of lightweight fabrics of the Regency years to provide warmth and some protection from windy conditions when gowns might lift and cause modesty issues. Jane Austen and her contemporaries often walked to places and so would have needed the warmth of a Pelisse or coat in the cold British winters.
In Europe, a Redingote was a coat or robe like garment worn both indoors and out, indoors left open to reveal a dress while the outdoor version was made of heavier materials and of darker colors than the type worn indoors. The name comes from the term ‘riding coat.’