Sunday, August 27, 2017

My next book is set in 1823 and I'm looking at fashion!

Shopping in the early 19th Century.

by Maggi Andersen 

Burlington Arcade

Growing tired of people throwing oyster shells in the lane running alongside his house,  so the story goes, Lord George Cavendish decided to turn the passage to good use and the Burlington Arcade , perhaps the oldest shopping center still in operation, opened it's gates on March 20, 1819.

The arcade, in contrast to the different exchanges and bazaars, consists of two rows of 72 enclosed shops (an enumeration still maintained), grouped at first into 21 double-width and 30 single-width shops. Situated at the corner of Old Bond Street and Piccadilly, it was an instantaneous success and The place to go for a truly fashionable bonnet!

The establishment of Harding, Howell & Co, in 1809 was situated at No 89 Pall Mall. A contemporary source describes the store: 


The Western Exchange in 1817 where independent merchants could rent booths.

Since most clothes were still custom made and not off the rack, a lot of time was spent choosing fabric at the linen-drapers, trimmings at the haberdashers and selecting designs at the dressmaker.

New gowns were ordered by consulting the many fashion sketches. Sometimes a dress maker would design a new gown for a favored customer. Fabrics were carefully selected and held up toward the light to be inspected for flaws.  This dress shop supplies trimmings: lace, braiding, ribbons, buttons and beads to enhance the dress as well as dress making. Partly finished dresses were tried on for last minute alterations. 

 Modiste with assistants  The early 19th century saw the  beginning of the modern fashion designer. Up to this point a woman went to the dressmaker for her gowns, the milliner for her hats, gloves and other accessories were purchased from other shops. The fashion designer, on the other hand, offered the whole package. Our print shows just such a shop, with the proprietor in black with a sample garment while one assistant adjusts the hat and another brings in a second.

Cheapside 1813, East India House Merchants serving the rich had began to gravitate to the Mayfair area but Covent Garden, Cheapside and Fleet Street remained havens for shopping. 

Appearing in the July 1817 Ackermann’s Repository, this ad for low priced silks on Hanway street from the latest French patterns.

1823 Fashion


Evening Dresses

Ball Gowns

With thanks to
Google Books
Ackermann's Repository

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