Vignettes of Fashion:  III. A Country House Visit

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"Florrie! Are you going to be married?" I exclaimed one day, as I entered her room and found an array of dresses and dress boxes scattered about; "Your room looks as if you had been ordering your trousseau from some Paris dressmaker."

"So it does," she answered, glancing round complacently. "No, I am not going to be married, my dear; but I am going to stay with Lady de Lyrium at De Lyrium Court and thought I could not do better than expend the cheque Uncle James sent me last birthday on a few new dresses."

"Quite right; for if ever you require to be well dressed, it is at De Lyrium Court. The house is sure to full of people, and endless entertainments going on. But have you really got all those dresses with Uncles James' money? You have been very clever."

"No, No," laughed Florrie, "Don't you recognise that white pongee and reseda? I have only treated myself to three, the rest are my old ones done up. I knew I could not afford very many," she continued, "so I had to make a judicious selection and resolved at last on a dinner gown, an 'at home' and a walking costume; the 'at home' dress will also serve for fetes, or grand afternoon receptions elsewhere. I have a bonnet to go with it. Envy me!" And she held up a lovely dress of crepe de chine and Roman satin, made in the Directoire style, with the crepe front arranged sash-wise, with deep tasselled fringe ends. The polonaise was of the satin, with small white 'fleurs-de-lis' dotted all over it, and in the corners at the foot, great bunches of white narcissus, with green leaves woven in silk on the material. The polonaise was really all in one, but a moire sash of the crape fell at one side and divided it into panels. It was a lovely dress and as Florrie said, would serve either for a home reception or an outdoor fete.

"Where did you get it?" I asked, when I exhausted every adjective I could think of. "That is surely not an English production?"

"I think it must be, for I got them all three at Shoolbred's delightful shop in Tottenham Court Road; but I thought it a dress even Lady de Lyrium would approve of, though I fancy myself more in this black brocade;" and she slipped on the dress as she spoke, to show it off to its best advantage. It did suit her marvellously well. The front was composed of black net, embroidered with gold threads in a deep pattern at the foot and little gold stars alternately with jet dots all over it. The Medicis collar was also made of the same net, wired into shape, and the sleeves to match. The rest of the dress was of black brocade and moire stripe and had a very simple but handsomely made train.

I hardly thought the walking dress would have suited her, until I saw her in it. Then the bebe effect was most becoming. It was of pale fawn material with narrow white stripes; the front was looped up with green ribbon bows,a dn had a border of red roses embroidered on it. But the novelty of the costume lay in the tippet of white white Irish lace which trimmed at the neck and the elbow sleeves with a deep frill of the same lace. The costume was complete when she added a white lace hat trimmed with green and fawn ribbons and roses and an Incroyable bow. She no longer looked like my little English cousin, but transformed into a fashionable Parisienne, ready for her promenade in the Bois.

She laughed when I told her so and declared she would provide herself with a pair of long-handled eyeglasses, and then the effect would be complete.

"But come and help me to pack them now, there's a good creature, for I go tomorrow; and I never can fold a dress properly; but you are so clever at it Daisy."

I laughed as I complied with her request and told her I should expect a full account of every account on which the dresses were worn.

Sylvia's Home Journal, 1889

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