Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dress of the Week: Spencer Jacket

The weather has been getting a bit warmer. It's almost +10C! So this week I felt I could go for some lighter attire, and we all know that a lady will always look lovely in a spencer jacket.

Jacket (spencer) and petticoat, 1815, The Kyoto Costume Institute   
I do love this high-waisted spencer jacket with long, tight-fitting sleeves covering the hands, of red cut velvet with piping and buttons in hussar style. There is something very daring about a woman who wears a red jacket with military-style decorations.

These jackets became popular between 1790s and 1820s. Since Regency dresses were very flimsy and offered little protection from winds and rough weather of Europe, ladies took to wearing spencers which provided warmth and added a dash of color to otherwise simple early 19th century ensembles.

Walking dress, Ackermann's Repository, 1817 
As the story goes, a spencer was originally a men's outer coat popularized by George Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer, who one night, standing too close to the fire, burnt off the tails of his coat. Clearly, one man's misfortune is another man's fashion choice. The ladies saw this cute and practical piece of clothing and started wearing it, too.  

A spencer is very similar to a modern cardigan or bolero jacket and was usually cut short along the waistline of the dress.  

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