At this time, the social classes were kept very much apart, and the ‘upper ten thousand‘ lived a totally different life from their servants, who were housed, clothed and fed in accordance with their employers whims and prevailing fashions.
For the aristocracy and the gentry, the distinguishing feature of women’s dress at the end of his reign was the enormous breadth caused by the width of the skirt and the extreme fullness of the sleeves. Unlike the very high-waisted styles of previous fashions, skirts began at the natural waistline and so appeared shorter, and this exaggerated the squat impression of the whole costume.
However, that is not the impression given by the illustrations below, as the general impression in these drawings is slender and graceful. When compared to the present-day fashions, they do seem long.
Hairdressing was very elaborate, the hair being built up from the head and crowned with flowers, feathers or jewelled combs. Fashion was still important, even if a Monarch had died, and during the mourning for George IV, black and white crepe flowers were used to decorate the hair in full dress, which was fairly simple, muslin being most usual, and when mourning was over, this was generally white.
If coloured, dresses were of one colour only, the favourites being rose, blue or lilac. Naturally, these fashions did not apply to the servants, although on the death of the King, they would have been dressed in some kind of black clothing to show respect.
Postage Stamp Booklet covers
The British Post office has issued stamp booklets with illustrated covers for many years, and they ran two series showing costumes through the ages. These three were designed by Eric Stemp, printed by Harrisons & Sons Limited.
Booklet issued on May 6th 1981 value: £1.40 Women’s costumes, 1800-1815
Booklet issued on Sep 30th 1981 value:£1.40 Women’s costumes, 1815-1830
Booklet issued on Feb 1st 1982 value: £1.55 Women’s costumes, 1830-1850
Posted with permission of the authors at The Ozzie Connection.