I’m posting this piece of news a bit early since I will need to put it up in five of six installments due to its length.
On June 16, 1840 , The Herald covered the news of the revolutionary new style of celebrations and parties given in New York and elsewhere. The details of one such event held by the fashionable ladies of Baltimore was stated. Lengthy descriptions of several of the women who attended this event was reported along with the details of everything they were wearing!
New and Interesting Movements in American
Fashionable Life– Grand Fete Champetre
at Oakland’s, Baltimore– Summer Fa-
shions and Dresses of the Principal Ladies
There was a sound of revelry by day. –Not Byron.
“I’ll show three some attires; and have thy counsel
Which is the best to furnish me to-morrow.”–
Much Ado about Nothing.
“ ‘Twas Earth’s lost paradise restored
In that bright bower of home.”– Anon.
“Oh silks from the toilets of ladies were there,
Which a queen might herself have been happy to wear:
White, beautiful lace, of a texture so thin,
That we think only of gossamer’s fingers could spin.
Long gauzes of silver, transparent light,
Which might rival the wings of the dragon-fly bright;
And the visitors eagerly press’d to a scene,
Which, like visits of angels, too seldom are seen.
And those who were present can never forget
The many fair visions by which they were met.”
An entirely new movement has been effected in
fashionable life this spring, which will probably re-
volutionize the whole of genteel society in this city
and country before long. We allude to the celebra-
ted parties given last month, on the plan of those once
given but the beautiful Duchess of Devonshire, by Mr.
D—-, of Park Place, in the manner of dejeuner a
tu jourchette. Four of these interesting affairs were
given during the month of May, between the
hours of 12 A.M., and 4 P.M. This peculiar selec-
tion of the time for giving a fashionable party, was
quite novelty in New York, and has had the effect
of drawing a strong line of demarcation between
“Who live at home in case.”
and the business men of the city, who have hereto-
fore been mixed up indiscriminately with those
who have really nothing else to do, but gossamer-
like, flutter un the sun-shine of fashion, and run its
The effect of choosing the business of hours of the
day, wherein to give these delightful entertainments,
completely shut out all the business men from join-
ing in them. All who had country customers to at-
tend to—notes to pay, or money to borrow, as well
as the few who had money to lend, were most in-
tensley occupied in attending to their mundane af-
fairs, at the very time that the exclusives of fashion-
able life were drinking champagne, dancing cotil-
lions, or reveling [sic] in the delights of an intellectual
conversazione between the intelligent of both sexes.
The result has been to show the distinction between
those who consider themselves the elite, and those
who are necessitated to take for their motto, “busi-
ness before pleasure.”
~transcribed by Keri Pacella
For wonderful images of women’s fashions see the website: 19th Century Fashion Pictures (1810-1859)