Mittwoch, 27. November 2013

Wer schön sein will, muss leiden...

Während ich immer noch mit Muße an meinem Quiltrock stichele,
sind mir beim Studieren zeitgenössischer Schriften ein paar interessante Zeilen für einen Nachtrag zu den Schnürleibstudien unter die Brillengläser gekommen.
Doch zuvor noch ein kurzer Blick auf das angestrebte Ideal der Zeit...und die Frage, mit welchen Mitteln man ihm nacheifern konnte!?
Diese Frage stellt sich damals wie heute.
While I'm still stitching with leisure on my quilted skirt,
I've found this interesting hint and addition to my short stays studies during my study of various period sources.
Before I'll share the find, I'd like to point to the ideal shape of the time...and the question, of how it was achieved!?
This question was asked back then and today still.

1804 Costume Parisien (Quelle/source: SceneinthePast)

Ich ahne wohl, wohin die Blicke wandern!
Manchmal hilft allerdings weder der beste Schnürleib, noch ein hölzerner diesem Falle liefert uns Johann Christian Hüttner in den Englischen Miscellen von 1804 die verblüffende Antwort, die ich einfach unkommentiert wiedergeben möchte:
I take a guess to where the glances go!
But in some cases neither the best pair of  stays, nor a wooden busk could help...well the proper albeit astounding answer is delievered by Johann Christian Hüttner in the Englische Miscellen of 1804, which I like to share without further comment:
 (For the English translation please scroll down)

Originaltext (Abschrift)
Es ist bekannt, dass in London, wie in Paris, die geschmackvollen Schauspielerinnen eine Art von Recht haben, neue Moden aufzubringen. 
Sind ihre Gedanken in dieser Rücksicht glücklich, so nehmen sie selbst die vornehmsten Frauen an, weil bei einer Actrice der Neid sich nicht so einmischt, wie bei Damen von gleichem Stande. Folgende Erfindung schreibt sich auch von einer Schauspielerin her, deren Anzug gemeiniglich sehr bewundert wird. 
Weil uns aber die Sache selbst noch nicht zu Gesicht gekommen ist, so ist es ehrlicher, die Beschreibung derselben aus einer Londoner Abendzeitung, dem Courier vom 10.Febr. d. J. (1804) zu entlehnen: "Eine bedenkliche Nachricht für gute Sitten — wir halten uns verpflichtet, die Societät zur Unterdrückung des Lasters und jede gesittete Person von einer beunruhigenden Sache zu unterrichten, welche so eben unter dem schönen Geschlechte, besonders unter den Frauen, die etwas völlig (füllig) sind, und deren Form nicht mehr die jugendlichen Umrisse hat, eingeführt worden ist. Man wird dies für Spott auf das schöne Geschlecht halten, aber es hat seine Richtigkeit, dass eine Scheidung (divorce) gegenwärtig dem Herzen einer jeden vornehmen Frau, die fünf und zwanzig Jahre zählt, am nächsten liegt, und das Ehestandsgericht wird nun mehr als jemals zu tun bekommen. Diese Scheidung ist aus Stahl mit Federn gemacht, und so dass sie in manchen Teilen elastisch, in andern fest ist. Man trägt sie an der Mitte der Brust, und ihr Zweck ist, die Busen der Damen getrennt zu erhalten, bei denen die Natur dies modische Amt nicht mehr verrichten will, da eine Trennung in diesem interessanten Teile des Weibes nach den neueren Begriffen von einer schönen Frau eben so wesentlich ist, wie rote Ellbogen und die Abwesenheit der Röcke; daher heißt man diese neue Erfindung eine Scheidung, 
ein Ding, worauf zärtliche Ehemänner natürlich ein wachsames Auge haben werden. 
Es ist die Erfindung einer Schauspielerin."
Text (translation)
It’s an establishment in London and Paris that elegant actresses have kind of privilege to introduce new fashions. 
If their choices are thought to be aesthetic, even the most distinguished women pick them up, because an actress is less of a source of envy, than another genteel woman of rank. 
The following invention was also introduced by an actress, who’s commonly admired for her dresses.
But due to the fact that this latest fashion has yet not been examined by us personally, we’d like to share a reliable description from a London paper, the Courier of 10th February 1804:
“A questionable and alarming message for morals and manners – we’re obliged to inform the society against vice, and each person of moral about a worrying novelty, which has been introduced to the fair sex, especially the embonpoint or those not having a juvenile shape anymore. This might be mistaken as mockery of the fair sex, but it’s the truth, that a ‘divorce’ currently is closest to the heart of each distinguished woman, who counts twenty and five years, and that the matrimony court will get busier than ever. This divorce is made of steel and springs, flexible in some part, firm in others. It’s placed on the middle of the bust, in purpose to keep the breasts apart for those woman, where nature isn’t able to fulfill it’s fashionable duty anymore. The divorce of this body part is according to woman’s latest taste as important as red elbows and the absence of skirts; that’s what is called a ‘divorce’, 
something, that tender husbands will have a watchful eye on. 
It’s the invention of an actress.”


  1. Dear Sabine,

    How funny, but oh yes, it makes sense. How uncomfortable, though.

    Very best,


  2. Okay. I think I got it. A 'Divorce' is a lift and separate thingy? Is it put in underneath the corset or stays? But I guess this goes with the 18 hour bra ads - lift and separate! :)

    1. First, please excuse that it took me a while to respond, but I'm currently very busy stitching my quilted skirt.
      Unfortunately I have found no picture of such a 'divorce' or any hint to an extant example. Maybe they looked similar to the pieces, which J.S. Bernhardt shows in his book Vol. II
      These metal pieces with the leather straps were meant to improve posture problems in the shoulder/neck/upper back area.
      Looking at them makes clear that a 'divorce' wasn't comfortable either, hence it was seldomly worn. Nevertheless I'd appreciate each hint to exisiting extant pieces.

  3. red elbows? they were fashionable too?

    1. Yes, period journals and almanacs like the 'Englische Miscellen' or 'Journal des Luxus und der Moden' are full of such amazing, yet sometimes strange can only wonder what it looked like and why it was thought to be fashionable...or maybe was it just a joke by the author J.C.Hüttner to mock women's vanity?

    2. I remember reading a complaint, in one of the English magazines, about the new dresses not being suitable to the English climate. I *think* the text also pointed out the impracticality of short sleeves. Couldn't this "red elbow" thing be similar, i.e., maybe what is referred to here is sore, raw elbows reddened by the cold? It would fit the satirising tone of the text...

      I really enjoy reading your blog, you find such interesting bits of information all the time and your own creations look so real. :)

    3. Thank you very much for sharing this exciting information! Yes, you could be right, the red elbows probably derived from the cold - not really a fashion highlight, isn't it?!

      Also many thanks about your wonderful compliment, it's very much appreciated :)

  4. I don’t know if you’re still interested in this (it’s been over two years!), but I found another red elbow-related tidbit while researching something else. There’s a song printed in Oliver’s Comic Songs which includes another reference to the high-waisted fashions (it mentions the “short-waisted gown”) and red arms/elbows. It goes: “The same line display of bare necks and red arms / Both in Nell and the lady of fashion”. You can find it here:
    The song is “Joan is as good as my Lady”, it's on p 7.

    The publication should date from between 1808 and 1810, but I don’t know how old the song itself may be. It’s quite likely that it was reprinted in other collections as well, perhaps earlier ones.

    I’m kind of intrigued when I came across this by how the red elbow-thing seems to have been, well, a “thing”. It'd be interesting to find even more references and see whether the red arms functioned like some sort of trope/motif in discussions (often with a satirical/mocking undertone) of neoclassical fashion. Anyway, as I said, it’s been a while, but I thought I’d share just in case it’d amuse you as well! :)

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your new find! It's amazing when sources come together to form new views on the past!
    Last year I've found a source on pink stockings (before 1804 and 1810/11), apparently the blushed flesh tone was always interesting for fashion trends (maybe especially so with the white dresses)!
    With all the new sources and aspects some topics can be examined again, history never ceased to amaze me!
    Thank you again very much for sharing!

    1. You're very very welcome, I'm glad I could share my enthusiasm with someone who understands. :)

      And pink stockings and white dresses sounds like it would be lovely indeed, now I want to make some!