Vignettes of Fashion:  II. At the Studio

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"This is an unexpected pleasure!" I exclaimed, as my cousin Florrie, together with Thyrza and Lottie Beverley, entered my studio one day towards the end of March. "What good wind blows you all here?"

"We have been going the round of the studios," answered Florrie, "and felt the show would not be complete without seeing what you were going to send to the Academy too."

I busied myself in making my visitors welcome and setting my pictures in the best light before them, and regarding with an artist's appreciative eye, the pretty toilettes of the three girls. We had discussed the suject of dress some weeks before, and all had gone to Redfern's in Bond Street, who famed, as every on knows, for his perfect cut and style; and as my eye rested on Thyrza, I thought I had never seen her in any costume which suited her so well. It was a black, very fine serge, beautifully braided and made in the new Directoire style, buttoning from the shoulder to the waist; and her hat, of white felt, trimmed with brown velvet under the brim and white velvet bows and ends and long brown feathers, was just the most becoming hat she could have chosen.

Florrie and I had had our dresses made alike, though of different materials. Mine was a dark blue tweed, with large white check upon it. The bodice had a double row of small buttons with loops across a white braid, and the drapery of the skirt opened in front, with a band of blue velvet edging the tweed, opening over a stripe of white braid, and the same was repeated at the side. The braid only showed when walking for, as a rule, the velvet bands hung so straight down that they touched each other. Our jackets were made - mine of dark blue and Florrie's of grey cloth - with large double lapels folding back in front and edged with the tinsel cord which is to be much worn this year, and quite pocketless and tight-fitting. Our hats, of course, matched the jackets.

Little Lottie had on one of the newest things in dust-cloaks, made of some pale brown soft material and trimmed with silver and brown braid; it fastened diagonally from the neck to the waist, where it was caught in with a pointed band of braid and hung rather full in the skirt, and her hat of brown straw was trimmed with a brim of dark brown velvet and bows of ribbon the same shade as the cloak, and three blackbirds.

I had not many pictures to show then, they had seen them all before; so as soon as the two or three easels were inspected, the Beverleys declared they must go on, as they still had three places to go to, and Florrie and I set out together for those I wanted to see.

The next day, while Florrie, who was very often my companion, and sometimes my model, and I were resting from our labours and having a quiet cup of tea together, Thyrza and Lottie came in with the most wobegone faces imaginable.

"What is the matter?" We both exclaimed ina breath.

"Oh Daisy," Thyrza answered, "what do you think happened yesterday? We have ruined our new hats, and Mamma is so angry, she will not give us any more!"

"Ruined your new hats!" I repeated. "How did you do that?"

Thyrza mournfully shook her head and began at the same time to laugh feebly, while Lottie took up the tale.

"When we left Sir Frederick's studio it was raining, so we took a Hansom, but the stupid idiot heard us call to him and thinking we wanted the glass down, let it down on top of us, and it was some time before we could make him understand what was wrong and get him to raise it again, so that we could draw our heads in. It is all very well to laugh, "she added, smiling to herself at our irrepressible amusement , "but, indeed, it was no laughing matter, for the rain beat on our heads and hats, and our struggles, together, have finished the hats utterly. You never saw such a wreck as Thyrza's is, and we are going to Lady de Bonton's tomorrow, and we do not know what we shall do, for Mamma sternly refuses to let us go to Redfern's and get others."

Whereupon there rose a Babel of tongues, commiserating, advising, deploring, till at last Florrie came to the rescue.

"I know what to do, girls, you have not spent all your pocket-money yet, I suppose?"

No, they had some left, and named the sum.

"Then I'll take you to a milliner who, though she lives in the unfashionable locality of Upper Street, Islington, is quite as good as many of the West End ones and better than a good many, I think. Have you ever herd of Madame Clare?"

"Yes!" Exclaimed both the Beverleys, breathlessly; "the Maurices got their new bonnets there, and they werer lovely. I had forgotten about that. Oh! Do let us go there at once, Florrie. Come along Daisy, how shall we go?"

"We shall take the train to King's Cross and walk from there - it is not such a very long way and the day is lovely. Yes, come along Daisy, it will do you good."

The walk was longer than we expected but the result was worth it - Madame Clare's bonnets are in such perfectly quiet taste that they were just the kind to suit us. Each one seemed prettier than the other, and it was very difficult to make a choice, for they all seemed just the very thing we wanted. Thyrza and Lottie were supposed to be the only purchasers, but neither Florrie nor I could resist the temptations set before us, and after much choosing and re-choosing, I at last decided on a little brown straw bonnet, with dark brown velvet front and strings. The crown was trimmed with bows of maize coloured velvet and a deep yellow rose, with a wreath of loose rose leaves which surmounted the face. It was bonnet exactly after my own heart, and I feel I look my best in it.

Thyrza's choice fell on a marvel of delicate colour and flowers. At first sight it seemed all lilies of the valley and green leaves, but closer inspection showed that the front was of folded maize crepe, above which came a band of folded chartreuse green ribbon, then sprays of liles, the more folded maize crepe, and the crown was entirely composed of lilies growing upwards. Bows of green and sprays of flowers and leaves stood up in front, and the strings were of green ribbon.

Lottie chose a hat of black fancy straw, with circles of thick green wire round it, whose trimming seemed more as though it had been blown onto it, so light and delicate was the effect. Two big yellow roses rested on top of the crown and a long spray of leaves with what none of us had ever seen before, a faded rose, the green leaves and pistols which remain after all the scented petals have fallen, a small group of these also nestled under the upstanding brim in front; black lace finished the trimming of the crown, and one side continuing in a long lace scarf which came from the back of the hat, round the neck, and fastened with three fallen roses on the shoulder.

Florrie being also tempted, bought a lovely little summer bonnet of eau de Nil crepe, with feathers to match. A full pleating surrounded the crown and was held in its place by narrow jet trimming. The top of the crown was a pretty jet ornament. Jet flies held the folds of the front and sides in order, and the black velvet strings gave strength and added to the effect of the whole.

There was an air of refinement about the shop, as well as about its contents, which was particularly pleasing. We were so well pleased with our expedition that even Thyrza and Lottie declared it was rather a good thing their other hats had been spoilt, and we unanimously resolved to pay Madame Clare another visit later on in the season.

Sylvia's Home Journal, 1889

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