Last month when I was in Paris my husband and I spotted a statue in a small park, and long before we were close enough to read the inscription I said, “That is so the 1830s.” Here’s the statue. In case you can’t see the inscription, the date is 1830.

IMG_2920Not that I should get mad props for ID-ing the fashion era. The period from 1830 to the early 1840s was marked by a very characteristic look in fashionable European and American circles. I loathe it.


Besides being extreme in its silhouette, I find everything about the look so . . . depressing. Everything drooped. Hairdos were curled and plastered to the forehead or else looped in front, like the ears of a morose basset hound. Sleeves slid off the shoulders and then ballooned out into absurd proportions. Tight, fitted bodices set off huge skirts, which were draped and flounced and beribboned. Have a look at some of these and see if you don’t agree with me:640px-Maria_Chreptowicz_by_Briullov



Daria_Ivanovna_Sushkova_by_anonymous_(1830) Kids suffered, too. Gone were the relatively comfy skeleton suits worn by boys of the past decades (see my blog here). Back came the corsets and tight collars and heavy fabrics:Barabas_Miklos_Kisfiu_hegeduvelBut it was the little girls who really had it bad. The muslin and cotton dresses that had been so popular in previous decades gave way to heavy brocades and velvets with tightly-laced bodices and multiple petticoats padding out their heavy, uncomfortable skirts. For early Victorians, it wasn’t just  fashionable to upholster your sitting room–you had to upholster your kid as well. Have a look:

Barabás_Family Anne-Louise_Alix_de_Montmorency,_with_her_daughter,_c.1840 Waldmüller-_Julia_Comtesse_Apraxin.jpegIn_the_Champs-Elysées,_1832 Princess_Victoria_aged_Four


Well, I’ll remember this decade now.

Julie says:

” it wasn’t just fashionable to upholster your sitting room–you had to upholster your kid” … that must be why Scarlett O’Hara thought it such a cool idea to make a dress out of those heavy velvet draperies in Gone with the Wind.

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