L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Les Amazones gonflées - equestriennes of the 1830s

Lady's fashions of the 1830s were certainly among the least aerodynamic in all the history of human dress; ladies stuck out all over. Skirts and sleeves and necklines were puffed up to an improbable degree. Superfluous drapery and flounces and out-sized trimming further burdened each fashionable garment. And, above, outrageous curls and top-knots were surmounted by even more extreme headdresses, high and wide, bedeviled with ribbons, plumes, and veils. All was extreme.

And no compromise was made for the riding habit of the modish equestrienne. The sleeves and skirts were just as bulging, but the skirts were much longer, overlong to trail behind when one was a-horse. A top hat was de rigueur and, swirling about it, a long and voluminous veil; a lady was always veiled while out of doors. When one considers that the equestrienne would be installed on an already quite precarious side saddle, it's a miracle that, with any forward motion of the horse, she could retain her seat; it seems all too likely that a gallop, a stiff breeze, and she would be set aloft like a bloated kite only to be tossed inelegantly onto the turf.

This colored lithograph is from the Les Heures de la Parisienne series by Achille Devéria.
I can't explain the figure in the middle; "pants" would have been unthinkable for a woman at the time.


  1. Actually a Side-saddle holds a lady very securely,hidden beneath all those skirts is a wooden post arrangement that lock the legs firmly, I think the figure with the gun is a young gentleman, perhaps a youth and the facial features and tiny waist are just the style of the time,exaggerating the ideal look of the time. http://www.sidesaddlearea8.co.uk/

    1. I think there are many who would argue the absolute security of a sidesaddle. But I agree with the idea that the pant-ed figure is probably a boy, given his height and girlish face; as exemplified by his dainty figure here, the fashions of the time for men were really rather emasculating.

  2. These outfits appeal to me for some reason. I am a great fan of the top hat with the veil! Loved this post. Incongruity abounds.