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Monday, June 7, 2010

Victorian Dress

Accordingly, in the course of the afternoon they drove off, Bob having clothed himself in a splendid suit, recently purchased as an attempt to bring himself nearer to Anne’s style when they appeared in public together. As finished off by this dashing and really fashionable attire, he was the perfection of a beau in the dog-days; pantaloons and boots of the newest make; yards and yards of muslin wound round his neck, forming a sort of asylum for the lower part of his face; two fancy waistcoats, and coat-buttons like circular shaving glasses. The absurd extreme of female fashion, which was to wear muslin dresses in January, was at this time equalled by that of the men, who wore clothes enough in August to melt them. Nobody would have guessed from Bob’s presentation now that he had ever been aloft on a dark night in the Atlantic, or knew the hundred ingenuities that could be performed with a rope’s end and a marline-spike as well as his mother tongue.

It was a day of days. Anne wore her celebrated celestial blue pelisse, her Leghorn hat, and her muslin dress with the waist under the arms; the latter being decorated with excellent Honiton lace bought of the woman who travelled from that place to Overcombe and its neighbourhood with a basketful of her own manufacture, and a cushion on which she worked by the wayside.  (Chapter 30)

John invites Bob and Anne to the theater to see a play which features, to their surprise, Matilda Johnson in a prominent role.  Bob and Anne assume that she is John's love interest, showing his motive in forcing her to go away, a thought which John neither confirms nor denies.

Bob wears a fashionable suit of pantaloons and boots trying to elevate himself by his dress to Anne's class.  Hardy succeeds in making Bob a comic character, being overdressed for a summer afternoon at the theater. 

Anne, on the other hand, is dressed in a blue pelisse, which was a coat worn over one's dress.

Under that coat, she wore a muslin dress, which was made of a light fabric to be worn in the summer during the day.
Also, Anne wore a Leghorn hat, which was often made of straw.

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