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Over the past few months, while working on the project that has now become The Book of Haps, I’ve examined countless images of wrappable textiles. I’ve encountered many ways to wear such textiles, and also reflected on the many different contexts for their wearing. Some of these groups of images were very useful for me, but less so for the book – such as the fashion plates I’ve reproduced here, all of which are taken from Pierre de la Mésangère’s Journal des Dames et des Modes between 1798 and 1813. As you can see, these images depict the many different varieties of châles and fischus and écharpes popular in France (and elsewhere in Europe) around the turn of the nineteenth century. This is one of my favourite eras in the history of dress (as well as other kinds of history) and I find Mésangère’s beautiful illustrations of female figures with simple muslin dresses and artfully-draped châles particularly pleasing. There are woven kashmir shawls, and shawls of fine lace; veils and wraps and little shawlettes; textiles worn triangularly or on the square, draped around the shoulders or worn to drape across the waist and lower body, always extending and enhancing an outfit’s elegant line. The plate above is probably my favourite – I just love the shallow peach-coloured triangle worn high up on the neck with its long points extending downward, and who can argue with that matching coquille bonnet? Here are some others you may like.

All plates from between 1798 – 1813, and published in Journal des Dames et des Modes.

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48 thoughts on “Journal des Dames et des Modes

  1. Though others have commented on the anatomical wrong-ness of some of these drawings, I’m fascinated by the arms — proportionally they’re pretty robust looking. And of course, the beautiful draping shawls and interesting bonnets & hats. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Beautiful fashion plates and a very interesting post. Thank you. I am looking forward to owning a copy of your “haps” book. I have made numerous shawls and take great pleasure in wearing them.

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  3. Thanx so much for sharing these images…love the time frame fashions…the shawls are so beautiful. ..I am sure the women who wore them felt beautiful as well…your posts are so welcome and loved here…

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  4. This magazine was more about accessories than clothes as women didn’t have many dresses at that time. I was told about five in a lecture at La Musée des Arts Decoratifs. Changing accessories was a way to jazz up a dress that had been worn and worn and worn again . Something for us to think about there?

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  5. As a huge Jane Austen fan, I can imagine Elizabeth, Marianne, Emma, and her other heroines as they might have dressed for different occasions.
    Thanks for the lovely images.
    I can’t wait to see your new Haps book. It looks like you’ve decided to self publish this one.

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  6. I am feeling mighty frumpy in my flannel PJ’s after viewing these really beautiful plates. They are exquisite. I would like to find a way to wear shawls/haps that don’t make me feel 100 yrs old. Perhaps the new Hap book will provide some inspiration. My wedding dress looked like #588-I could have used that wrap for a bit of cover. I look back on those photos and wonder how I picked such a low cut gown.

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  7. Dear Kate,
    I stumbled across your website some time ago and often drop by because I like your work, wit, and writing. What I find interesting about these pictures is not only the clothes the women are wearing but also their sometimes very short haircuts. Admitted I only have my knowledge of romantic movies, but I always thought of women in the 1800s to have had rather long hair which they pinned up? Do you by chance know if short hair was more commen and maybe only hidden under pleasant bonnets? I always thought short hair worn in public was more a “scandalous” 1920s thing. (sorry if the tenses are incorrect). Thanks

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    1. I was also surprised by the short hair cuts. In the second plate, the model’s hair is described as “Chevelure en porc-épic” which translates loosely as “porcupine hair style or head of hair”. It looks pretty modern.

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  8. Have you ever noticed that their heads are too small for their bodies? According to Jann Matlock, this is because it had to be proven that women were not as intelligent as men, in order to send them back to their homes, after the Revolution when some rights were opened for them, and women’s education developed. Women had, in the Empire, to understand that they couldn’t really think or study and the women’s “magazines” were the first medium of that propaganda.

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    1. This seems a very odd argument – there were certainly some conservative thinkers in the 1790s, but it was also that decade in which modern feminist discourses emerged. The heads of the figures seem rather to follow other conventions of fashion illustration (which indeed continue today)

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      1. Yes, it must be thoses times conventions : men are drawn very tall and slim too, short torso and extra long legs !
        I am more suprised by the way they write “schall”, which is not a french word… They mean “châle” but does it come from the english “shawl” or the german “Schal” (or Tuch) ? Seams quite odd to me !

        Can’t wait to have your new book Kate, I already have a little soon-to-be-haps stash !

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    2. they actually did have much smaller feet and hands than we do. If you look though collections of footwear and gloves you would be hard-pressed to find larger sizes. Generally speaking our skeletons are also larger and thicker boned – from better nutrition in childhood.

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  9. I love it when you bring readers images most would never know about. I’ve decided that you are a very interesting person. Yes.

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  10. I put this comment on your last blog post but in case anyone hasn’t seen it……. I went to Gawthorpe on Thursday 28th April and was disappointed. The textile rooms are not open at the mo as they haven’t finished the displays. Just a warning for anyone planning a visit to check first.

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  11. Thank you for sharing these stunning pictures!!!!! They are of great interest to me and images I am unlikely to encounter elsewhere.
    Julie

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  12. Ah, the days when ladies had nothing much better to do than promenade, visit, and converse then write novels under their blotters. The hats and shawls are definitely delightful, thanks.

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  13. Just beautiful! But all I could think of was “Oh! The laundry” with those trailing skirts keeping the floors dusted to say nothing of outside. One needed the shawls to cover the bare skin of the exposed breasts in a cold climate. Lovely to look at though, I think skirts albeit short, are making a comeback

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  14. What happened to the poor lady in the third to last fashion plate? Her left arm is set in backwards. Or her elbow is double-jointed. Her dress with the border around the hem is very elegant. I especially like her shoes. Polka dots or little blue flowers? The colour matches her sash and the ribbons of her bonnet. The subtle matching of colours in ribbons, shoes, fans, or ornaments is shown in the other pictures, too. “Understated and sophisticated” comes to the mind.

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    1. I think the illustrator was hired for his ability to draw clothes, not women. One or two look like guys and a couple are seriously on the broken front. I hope he was not drawing from life. I loved the one where I wondered if the artist was aware of nipples as that decollete was seriously low.

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  15. So lovely. I agree this is a beautiful fashion period. I’m keen to let it influence my (home made) wardrobe development.

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  16. Really, really lovely. It does give me a pang that we don’t dress like this anymore. I knit shawls and wraps all the time, but it seems to be for the knitting of them, not the wearing. I honestly don’t give much thought to what happens to an intricate shawl once I finish making it, but these images give me a lot to think about. Not that I’m going to adopt 19th-century French style, but really–yoga pants, T shirt and handknit shawl is not a lovely combination, ever!

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    1. I see no reason why you cannot wear your beautiful hand knitted shawls with your T-shirt and yoga pants especially if it makes you feel good. You could start a new fashion trend. I have a beautiful hand knit shawl that a very wonderful friend knitted for me. I have been known to wear it with my office casual clothing as well as my sweatpants and a T-shirt, especially when I have had a hard day I need a little extra cheer. If you are a prolithic shawl knitter and feel that some of the ones you have made need a different home consider donating them to a local hospice agency and ask that they be given to the family members whose love ones are completing their life’s journey . I do this with many of the shawls that I make. It gives me a reason to keep making them. Take care and we are your beautiful shawls with pride!

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    2. This is puzzling me… Whats the point in making something that wont be used? What a waste of precious resources and time! People nowadays still wear shawls and stuff like that, its perfectly normal in many countries. If you dont think they fit with a t shirt, just wear something else with them? There are lots of comfortable dresses out there. :)

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