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  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1817-1820 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk, applied with silk satin panels, trimmed with passementerie, lined with cotton, metal

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs A. Wallinger

  • Museum number:

    T.110 to B-1969

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Echoes of military uniform give this walking dress a masculine flourish. The curving satin bands applied to the front of the spencer are reminiscent of the parallel lines of braiding which extended across the breast of many uniforms. Passementerie in the form of crescent-shaped moulds, looped cord and balls covered in floss silk replace the gilt or silver buttons on some regimental coats. The tassels on the collar ends and cuff bands evoke the tassels adorning boots, hats, sashes and cap lines of military accessories. In place of epaulettes, puffed oversleeves composed of linked bows emphasize the shoulder line.

The infusion of military styles into fashionable dress in Britain was largely due to the influence of the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815). Among other factors, contact with foreign troops had a strong impact on civilian as well as regimental dress, and military ornament was translated into stylish trimmings on women's hats, bodices, spencers and pelisses. The uniforms worn during this period were some of the most elaborate in the history of military dress, and their bright colours, frogging, braid and tassels fuelled the imagination of fashion for years to come.

Although this walking outfit is not based on any particular uniform, some garments closely followed certain styles. The uniform of the hussars, who were light cavalry, was particularly flamboyant as it was derived from Hungarian national dress. In her memoirs, Elizabeth Grant describes the admiration she received when she 'walked out like a hussar in a dark cloth pelisse trimmed with fur and braided like the coat of a staff-officer, boots to match, and a fur cap set on one side, and kept on the head by means of a cord with long tassels'.

Physical description

Walking dress ensemble consisting of a spencer, dress and bodice of silk with applied silk satin panels. Trimmed with passementerie.

Spencer jacket, short waist length and with a centre front opening. The collar is stiffened and turned down, shaped to points at the sides and at the centre back, each trimmed with a small silk tassel. The sleeves are long with a puffed epaulet of linked self material bows. The cuff is trumpet shaped, held at the wrist by a cuff band with triple lobes fastening with black metal hooks and eyes. The front is trimmed with curving satin bands, and the ends are trimmed with semicircular braid motifs with pendants. There is a plain waistband. Lined with cream cotton and with a pink ribbon waistband and fastens with black metal hooks and eyes.

The dress has a straight front panel, wedge shaped side panels and is gathered at the centre back where it fastens with a matching lilac ribbon tie. The hem is padded and above is an applied satin border with an undulating edge, and curved bands in each hollow is linked to the bottom of the band with an applied cordonné pleated band. Unlined though the padded hem is faced with matching ribbon. There is a pocket slit in the right rear side seam. There are heliotrope coloured ribbon shoulder straps attached to the waist.

Bodice is high waist length and with a low square neck. There are armholes finished with a satin cordonné but no sleeves. The front is trimmed with horizontal rows of graduated pleated ribbon each terminated with a braid tassel. A similar trimming runs around the neck.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1817-1820 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silk, applied with silk satin panels, trimmed with passementerie, lined with cotton, metal

Descriptive line

Walking dress ensemble consisting of a spencer, dress and bodice of silk applied with silk satin, Great Britain, 1817-1820


Silk; Passementerie


Fashion; Women's clothes; Sport; Textiles; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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