I love to get dressed up and go out on the town. Even, now at my age (I just turned 82 years young!) I love to go out with my husband Tom. Just last weekend we went to a party at the ballroom dance studio where we practice our fox-trot, waltz, salsa and so many more. Our talented instructors, Monika and Henry just celebrated their fourth-year anniversary of Dance Fairfield. Part of the Fred Astaire Dance Franchise.
History has shown us that women have always loved to get dressed up. And yes, even be a little daring in their fashion choices. Being daring is different depending on the woman. For some women it means wearing a stunning gown with a deep décolletage or décolleté. Décolletage is the area of the neck, shoulders, back and upper chest exposed by the neckline of a woman’s clothing, low-cut necklines of ball gowns, evening gowns, leotards, lingerie and swimsuits, among other fashions. Even today, décolletage is seen as an expression of femininity, and in some parts of the world any décolletage is considered provocative and shocking.
During the Victorian period, social attitudes required women to cover their bosom in public. For day dresses, high collars were the norm. Later, towards the end of the Victorian period the full collar was the fashion, though some décolleté dresses were worn on formal occasions.
In 1884, the Portrait of Madame X by John Singer Sargent of American-born Paris socialite, Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau, was criticized when she was depicted in a sleek black dress displaying what was considered scandalous cleavage. Even more shocking, the painting depicted the strap of her dress falling off her right shoulder. The controversy was so great that Sargent reworked the painting so that the shoulder strap was no longer “off her shoulder”. But that wasn’t enough to save Sargent’s reputation. The artist was forced to leave Paris for London in 1884 because of the scandal that ensued.
My friend and talented portrait artist, Diane Aeschliman, of Killingworth, CT, painted my portrait a few years back, and coincidentally the shoulder strap of my elegant, red gown, kept slipping off. Here’s that painting for your perusal.
Perhaps if I had lived in the Victorian era I would have caused a great scandal as well!
Historical romance novels are a perfect way to indulge in the daring (and sometimes scandalous) love stories of fictional heroes and heroines. My novel Indigo Sky was inspired by the true-life love story of artist Albert Bierstadt and his love affair with the beautiful wife of his best friend. My story has a happy ending of course. As do all the historical romances that we love to read!
And speaking of historical romances and happy endings – I want to let you all know about a wonderful new giveaway that I’m part of with Booksweeps. You could win more than 45 Regency and Victorian romance novels by New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors Joan Jonston, Lauren Royal, Lauren Smith and many more including me! Along with a brand new e-reader device. Just in time for the Holidays. I hope you will sign up for this amazing giveaway. It’s free and it’s fun! Click here to enter. Until next time! Keep on dancing! Love Gail.