Thursday, 3 November 2011

'The Lady's Stratagem' - A Repository of 1820s Directions for the Toilet, Mantua-Making, Stay-Making, Millinery & Etiquette ~ Frances Grimble

Apologies for my lack of posting for the last 2 months.  Learning about my father's terminal prognosis with Motor Neurone Disease (specifically ALS), has thrown my life into turmoil. It may be for a while that I only get around to posting on my here once a month or so, but I will try to do at least that. The last couple of months have been spent trying to come to terms with everything, and of course helping to support my parents with my father's care. His care needs will only continue to grow over the coming months, and I am constantly trying to balance my life in the best way for my family and I.

I am a positive thinker, and whilst I am fully aware that the future is both frightening and bewildering at present, I realise that my attitude towards how I deal with this is the most important thing. Taking each day as it comes is a must, and finding small things to be grateful for (such as amazing family, friends, and health care professionals), is an excellent way to ward off self pity.

And, of course, I do take great comfort in my love of historical fashion, and so now find that I need to immerse myself in this love of mine, to at least remind myself that some things thankfully don't change, and that it will always be a huge part of my life.

On to the post for today; gushing over a new book so I am so delighted to have found!

How I have longed to get my hands on this book! While I was searching for books written about 1820s fashion, I found this gem. It has been around for quite a while I know, but I finally had the money to buy myself a copy a month or two ago, after hankering after it for months and months!
The Lady's Stratagem Frances Grimble ~ Lavolta Press 2009

I don't know of any other book that describes the details of what a lady in the 1820s had to do with regards to her clothing, beauty and fashion needs. In here there is everything that she would need to know; from how to deal with spots, to how to make toothbrushes from Horseradish roots. It is truly remarkable!

Points of great interest to me:
Thinking about making the 1820s petticoat (one day) that I promised myself, which is this one,
Manchester City Art Galleries
I was pleased to find instructions and diagrams for cutting the gored skirt. The chapter on stay making is utterly fascinating. It has everything that I had wondered about, and lots more besides. Instructions show you step by step how to make various forms of stays, with advice on fabric, which type of boning to use, and pattern diagrams.

There is a superb section on embroidery, with diagrams again and which fichus, and collars were to be worn when.  Shortly after that there are a few pages regarding holes and repairs.

The chapters that are wonderfully engrossing are at the back of the book, gently advising a lady how she is to behave in society at certain events, and how she must treat those around her, both abroad of the home and inside it. Titles such as 'Deportment in the Street', and 'Religious Propriety in Social Intercourse' are a tiny taster of some of the gems in this section.


Once I had finished leafing through it (the ooh and aaahh's took up a fair amount of time), I was slowly coming to realise how sewing would have taken up whole days for the ladies that had to undertake all this work. I am actually surprised that they found the time to do anything else!! If you were a lady in the 1820s who owned such a postion in life that you were able to be at leisure all day, if you weren't making new items, you were often mending those clothes of your own, or others' that needed it. How did they find that time to do all that visting, and 'paying calls' upon one another?!!

I cannot wait to get into bed tonight, and curl up with this somewhat hefty tome, which is totally worth the arm ache!!
Thank you Ms Grimble, you have made a young woman very happy!!

If anyone out there is like me, and LOVES the 1820s, buy this book, now! Do it! Or, failing that, put it right at the top of your Christmas list...you will not be disappointed!

with love,
Naomi
p.s I hope to get back to my 1820s corded stays very, very soon.