Tippin' the Scales


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From The Archives #12

This cartoon, which pokes fun at the ‘National Costume, Then and Now’ appeared in 1831. ‘And have you already been declared official, Euphrosyne?’ says the man on the left to the woman next to him. She replies, ‘I was just about to ask you the same question, Proteus.’ The cartoon pokes fun at the entire notion of a nation-wide line of clothing . Note the man on the right, whose attire mirrors what men were ‘officially’ wearing in 1700.

Euphrosyne and Proteus were the names of the magazines devoted to ‘Dutch Fashion’ which were launched the following year: Euphrosyne for the women and Proteus for the men. A group of Dutch woman declared they had had enough of French fashion, and attempted to promote a national clothing line among the female population. The men felt they had to join in, and a group of them came up with the ‘fashion magazine’ Proteus.

The woman on the left is wearing the type of walking clothes which appeared in the first issue of Euphrosyne. Her outer garment is green, with puffed sleeves which ‘from then on would serve as a national mark of distinction’. The national colours orange, red, white and blue were not suited to these winter outfits, according to the designers of the new fashion. Many readers frowned upon this colour advice, while others regarded the entire magazine as a ridiculous initiative, and expressed their sentiments in letters to the editor. The man on the left is attired in the walking outfit as it was launched in the first issue of Proteus: a ’cloth coat and kashmir trousers’.

The gentlemen’s magazine Proteus also ran illustrations of vehicles, which could likewise be ordered. In this way, the editors ridiculed the entire notion by billing the illustration on the right as the ‘first national carriage’: simply a wagon loaded with kegs. At upper left, we see ‘the latest pleasure vehicle’. The latter was actually for sale in Proteus, together with a version featuring windows.

Click the photo for a broader view.

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