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Capturing Modern Life

The Language of the Lorette

In contrast, the dress of a lorette of the same period demonstrates a more affluent woman who has assimilated some of the main vocabulary of fashion in the language of modern life. In Guys' drawing the lorette has used dress to imitate her social superiors and to demonstrate her social aspirations. She has used the features of fashionable dress in order to attempt to engage with the same social language as a fashionable woman. Her hair is worn in a high chignon and she has limited the decoration on the hairstyle to a simple aigrette. Her accessories complement the fashionable eveningwear of the 1870s: pendant earrings and a black velvet ribbon worn around the neck, which emphasise the fine, pale complexion of a woman of leisure. The lorette wears a tight fitting and sleeveless evening bodice, and a skirt with panniers at the side worn over a bustle at the back. The fashionable panniers, double skirt and apron style front pleating acquires an unconscious irony in terms of the grisette’s apron which symbolises her manual work, and may unconsciously echo the lorette’s working class social roots.

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