What Are Historical Broads Always Talking About in Fashion Plates?

Illustration for article titled What Are Historical Broads Always Talking About in Fashion Plates?

Long before glossies and style bloggers there were fashion plates, which the rich woman of yore would take to her modiste (and the less-rich woman would try recreating at home). But have you ever noticed how the women in these illustrations of whatever was “in” for the season always look like they’re discussing something majorly juicy?

Advertisement

For instance, this beauty, from the waning days of Louis XVI’s reign. I guarantee that woman carrying the fan has rolled up with some serious intel about some debauched, disease-ridden aristocrat or another. Those two on the right are trying to pretend like they don’t care but oh they damn sure do:

Illustration for article titled What Are Historical Broads Always Talking About in Fashion Plates?
Advertisement

It’s 1798 and according to the accompanying caption, “Two women and a baby watch naval manoeuvres from the quayside through a telescope.” They are definitely speculating about how much the dashing Captain so-and-so has in the bank and how vastly preferable he’d be to some feckless do-nothing minor lordling who’s got a gambling addiction, to boot.

Illustration for article titled What Are Historical Broads Always Talking About in Fashion Plates?

1832. My God, ladies, I know her dress is shocking in the extreme, but do try not to all look over at once.

Illustration for article titled What Are Historical Broads Always Talking About in Fashion Plates?
Advertisement

1845. Clara has been competitive for years, and Elizabeth has largely tolerated it. Where’s the harm in another woman trying to one-up your stylish new bonnet, really? But today, she took it too far.

Illustration for article titled What Are Historical Broads Always Talking About in Fashion Plates?
Advertisement

1847. “I don’t know anything about that.”

Illustration for article titled What Are Historical Broads Always Talking About in Fashion Plates?
Advertisement

1848. The real action is happening in the next room, because this is eavesdropping if I’ve ever seen it.

Illustration for article titled What Are Historical Broads Always Talking About in Fashion Plates?
Advertisement

May 1862. This confrontation has been building for years, ever since their schooldays at Bath.

Illustration for article titled What Are Historical Broads Always Talking About in Fashion Plates?
Advertisement

May 1863. Last night somebody let somebody take liberties in a darkened ballroom corner and these women are on the case.

Illustration for article titled What Are Historical Broads Always Talking About in Fashion Plates?
Advertisement

1872. Whatever that woman in the pink ribbons is whispering, this much is obvious—somebody’s reputation is about to get fucking nuked.

Illustration for article titled What Are Historical Broads Always Talking About in Fashion Plates?
Advertisement

1875. “He sent you a sketch of his WHAT????”

Illustration for article titled What Are Historical Broads Always Talking About in Fashion Plates?
Advertisement

Photos via Hulton Archive/Getty.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

WhatHadHappenedWas
WhatHadHappenedWas

No one goes to school in Bath. Bath is where you go to escort your maiden aunt who’s suffering from ill humors and must take in the air, but needs a companion other than her over indulged spaniel Mr. Powderhauser and her dour ladies maid Frida. If she asks you to go, you must, because you have no fortune of your own, but all you'll see in Bath are rogues, rakes, or worse- second sons- on holiday from regiment.