The 19th century is very diverse in fashion. Silhouettes, designs, and cuts changed one another every decade or so. In 1816, the typical female outfit was simple, feminine, and pretty. How can we single out a certain year like that and be sure that it’s accurate? Because this is the clothing of famous English writer Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, pictured in the drama movie “Mary Shelley” that was released in 2017. This is how she was dressed when she was writing her world famous “Frankenstein”.
A short-sleeved linen chemise was worn next to the skin to protect the outer garments from sweat.
Knitted stockings in wool, linen, or silk were worn pulled up over the knee. A silk ribbon garter was tied below the knee to keep the stockings smooth and in place.
A new type of undergarment called “a pair of pantalettes” was worn. This comprised two separate tubular legs connected by a drawstring at the waist. Not every woman wore them and not all the time either. Just when an extra layer was required for modesty or warmth.
Corded stays were worn to raise the bust. This was a transitional garment and as such, corded stays varied in length, style of fastening, materials, and decoration. But they were functional, comfortable, and often very pretty.
A linen petticoat was worn over this to disguise the line of the stays and to provide an extra layer to cover the legs.
Gowns were high-waisted and could have either front or back fastening. They were occasionally buttoned but mostly, they were closed by a couple of hooks and eyes, and a drawstring at the neck and waist to pull the gown in to fit. Indian muslin fabrics and simple block-print patterns were fashionable, as were English cottons with their more complicated roller-print designs.
Long sleeves could be added for cooler days, and these were tacked on to a concealed under-sleeve of linen.
Flat leather pumps, often with criss-cross lacings were worn.
A stole could be added for warmth or to add a contrasting color to an outfit. The stole is a narrow shawl made from fine, expensive fabric.