It’s embellishment time on the Historical Sew Fortnightly. Time to trim, ornament, adorn, frill, bedeck, garnish, festoon, and gild to your hearts content.
It’s also time for a confession. I have trouble with embellishment. I like the idea of embellishment, I like it when I see it on historical gowns, but when I get a gown finished, but un-trimmed, I love the silhouette and simplicity so much I just can’t make myself finish the trim and change the clarity of line.
So I’m hoping to use this challenge to finally make myself trim some of the un-embellished items I have sitting around. And I’m hoping all these pretty embellished pieces reconcile me to some historical maximalism!
Like Elisabeth’s fabulous lace trimmed ruff, bejewelled headdress, and garnished partlet and dress. I’m not usually a fan of late 16th century fashions, but the ornamentation of her dress is so perfectly balanced with the simplicity of her face, and with all the other embellishments.
Late 17th century fashion can also be a bit hit-or-miss, but this frock marries the ribbon tabs and lace of the full chemise sleeves, the richly patterned skirt (pattern is, after all, a form of ornamentation), and the jewelled tie backs in such a delightfully romantic fashion.
The 18th century is all about embellishment, and I love that men got in the act. If I could embroider like this I’d probably be far more enthusiastic about embellishing everything!
Since my embroidery skills are sadly lacking, I’ll have to content myself with 18th century lace, bows, ruffles and fly fringing and passimentarie.
Even the simple white frocks of the turn of the 19th century were embellished – usually white, but this polychrome and gilded example is delightful.
I also love the simple 1840s frocks with their deep lace-trimmed skirt tiers. They clearly have links to Queen Victoria’s lace trimmed wedding dress of 1840, but I’ve also rread period references that call them ‘Boston dresses’ as they were apparently favoured by the elite ladies of that city. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were also called Winterhalter dresses, as he was so fond of painting the grand ladies of Europe in that style of embellished frock.
It’s not just pretty ballgowns that can be embellished. I’m fascinated by the tasselled trim on this 1860s mantle
And the embroidery and piecing on this 1880s jacket. Wow.
The late Victorians just loved embellishment. Just checkout the hecka everything going on on this dress:
If that is too much, what about this amazing chenille embroidery from the designer who (to my mind at least) brought a mastery of embellishment to her garments which no other designer has come close to matching:
Let’s finish off with another bit of subtle embellishment, in the form of 1930s colour-play trim.