History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

28 November 2011


Over Thanksgiving I had a discussion with a re-enactor girlfriend in which she stated that she hadn’t seen lace used much as a trimming on gowns in the Georgian era, but that she was reading it all the time in books, and it bugged her. While I agree that the use of lace (or “blond” as it was sometimes known) doesn’t appear to have been as widely used as self-fabric trims, eyelash trims, and other bits of “passimentarie”, it was used*. Here are a few examples:

Saque c. 1770s.

This beautiful silk gown is trimmed with lace both at the edges of the bodice and sleeves as well as in patterns on the petticoat and skirts.

Round gown c. 1800-1805

This silk gauze gown from the beginning of the 19th century has a large lace frill about the neckline as well as bits of matching lace on the short sleeves.

Apron-front gown c. 1810-1812

This taffeta gown as a simple lace frill all the way around the neckline.

*It should be noted, however, that the two most common uses I see in books are lace trim on shifts/chemises or on corsets, and this IS incorrect for the era. I don’t start to see such trims on extant garments until the mid-Victorian period (c. 1850-1860).


Blogger Meg McNulty said...

Beautiful pictures! It's interesting how understated and delicate the usage is - just a slender trim in most cases. I would have imagined it more heavily used, but it makes sense that it is not given that everything was handmade!

3:03 PM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Isobel, these photos are gorgeous, esp. the sacques gown. I have never heard the term "blond" before, for lace, and I fancy myself a costume person. So I'm thrilled to have learned a new term. But was "blond" applied to black lace as well?

5:01 AM  
Blogger Isobel Carr said...

@Leslie: Yes, but it was "black blond" (which I know confuses a lot of people, LOL!).


c. blond(e lace : see B. 2.

1771 T. Smollett Humphry Clinker I. 147, I missed three-quarters of blond lace.

c1840 C'tess Blessington Sketches & Fragm. in C. Gibbon Casquet of Lit. (1877) I. 216/2 Wore my new Parisian robe of blonde lace.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Blonde lace, any of several light-coloured laces. Originally the term referred to continuous-thread bobbin laces made in France from unbleached Chinese silk beginning in the mid-18th century. Later the term blonde was extended to include laces of bleached silk (white blonde) and black-dyed silk (black blonde). They were made at Bayeux, Caen, and Chantilly in the north, and imitations were produced in England during the lace’s most fashionable period."

7:57 AM  
Blogger Isobel Carr said...

1777, School for Scandal:
cap with blonde lappets

1800, London Chronicle:
train the fame as petticoat, trimmed with blonde
Royal blue bias silk petticoat, with fine blonde flounce

1815, La Belle Assemblee:
Short sleeves i-la-sabot, trimmed with blond

1822, Lady’s Monthly Museum
At first they were all trimmed with blonde, but are now edged with colored riband

8:04 AM  

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