All posts tagged: lace

Terminology: What is blonde lace?

One of the most striking features of Queen Adelaide’s frock in this week’s Rate the Dress is her glorious blonde lace sleeves.  Perhaps you’ve read a Georgette Hayer novel and come across a description of the heroine heading out to a dinner party in a dress trimmed with blonde lace and wondered what that meant.  Maybe you already knew, if not, wonder no more! ‘Blonde’ is the term used to describe the natural colour of undyed silk, and blonde lace was originally the name for a specific style of continuous bobbin lace made in France (primarily Chantilly, Caen & Bayeux) from natural, undyed silk thread imported from China. While blonde lace was originally made from undyed and unbleached silk the name later came to refer to lace in a particular style made from silk thread, even if it was bleached white, or dyed black (and occasionally other colours).  In 1902 an ad offers it in white or ‘butter’, and a fashionable 1895 tea jacket is made up in ‘black blonde lace’.  Sometimes different shades were be combined in the …

What exactly is a guimpe?

I ran across this object recently, and was most intrigued: The MFA Boston describes it as: A guimpe of gathered and puffed white net, high round neck, open down front elbow length sleeves, foundation of tarlatan covered with net, white tulle ruching around neck held in place with narrow coral velvet ribbon. While interesting, this still doesn’t explain what a guimpe is (other than a sort of lacy blouse thing which you obviously had to wear under or over another garment, which you can tell from the photo), or what you do with it. So I did a little research. Apparently a guimpe is a short blouse worn under a pinafore/jumper dress, or a fill in for a low-cut dress. It’s very similar to a chemisette or dickey. It was a word that was particularly common in the mid-late 19th century, and it comes from the Old French word for wimple, which is why the white thing that nuns wear around their necks/heads are also sometimes called guimpes. Here is a very early gown with a …