Monday, April 24, 2017

Early 19th Century Riding Habit: Inspiration & Resources

I don't know what it is about blogging lately, but sitting down to put my thoughts about anything into words has seemed terribly overwhelming.  It's not a lack of things I'd like to share--I'm spoiled for choice!  In a way, I think that almost makes it harder.  Where do I start?  What do I say?  How can I possibly catch up?!

Well, as they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  Or alternatively, how do you eat an elephant?  One bit at a time (preferably don't do that, though.  Elephants are friends, not food.)

So, for my first step, or bite, whichever you prefer, I'm going to rely on pictures being worth a thousand words and just share a bit of where I started with the 1810s riding habit I'm working on (and nearing completion!)

The following images are courtesy of the Bibliotheque des Arts Decoratifs, via Ginger's fantastic Flickr albums.


Costume Parisien, 1802-1803

Ackermann's Repository, 1810

Costume Parisien, 1816

Costume Parisien, 1817

Ackermann's Repository, 1818
There are many other fashion plates out there, from both English and French sources, but these are the main ones that influenced my choices for this particular project.

I'm also very grateful for the published works of fellow bloggers, and spent no small bit of time reading and re-reading their respective riding habit project pages:

Something I discovered while "researching," if you can call trawling Pinterest and Google Images for information "research," is that if our ancestral artist had Photoshop, they would have used it to egregious effect.  I'm pretty certain that some of these ladies were painted while sitting in someone's sitting room, and then a wild, wide-eyed, snorting beast was "pasted" in behind them for effect.  Like, seriously, you can't sit on a horse that way.  And if your horse looks like the ones in the painting (as if someone has just goosed him unexpectedly?), you probably won't be looking as bland and passive as the equestrienne in the portrait.  Or maybe I'm the only one that bellows "oh SHIT!" right before hitting the ground when my horse gets goosed, spooked, or otherwise takes offense at his surroundings.

Oh, and you'll notice the fashion plates above don't include horses.  Fashion plate horses were almost certainly a different species, given to terrible derp and only remotely related to the horse as we know it.

That being said, not all horse portraits made me belly laugh, so here are a couple of particularly lovely ones that very much captured the overall look I hope to someday achieve with both my attire and my horse(wo)manship.

Up next:  Probably materials?  Maybe something about mockups.  Who knows; it's a miracle I'm even writing this post to begin with.


  1. Entertaining blog, Katie, especially the bit about elephants and surprised horses. Pics were fascinating. I do not sew, but that looks like a lot of fabric in front.

    1. Thank you Tracey! It certainly is a lot of fabric...currently my version has lots of cat hair stuck to it as well. :)

  2. Wonderful post. I can't wait to see your progress on this special garment...and I hope to see photos of you in the finished garment & your horse ;)