The latest winter style in Chambéry, France (1860)

With cold weather approaching, it might be a good time to consider updating your winter wardrobe.  You might take inspiration, for example, from this fashionable winter ensemble from Chambéry, a city in eastern France and the historical capital of the Savoy region.

While we don’t know the identity of the young lady who is so elegantly and warmly attired, we do know that her portrait was made by an enterprising young man named Louis Chamussy, who opened the city’s first photography studio in 1859 when he was only twenty-one years old.

Woman in Chambéry by Chamussy (1860) 3

 

You’ll need a hoop to wear all these layers, of course.  (Gloves are also recommended but not shown).

Woman in Chambéry by Chamussy (1860) 4

 

Dressing well for winter isn’t cheap, but when the mercury drops, you’ll be ready for a sleigh ride in the Alps!  Before you head out on your winter adventures, stop by for a portrait at Louis Chamussy’s atelier de photographie à Chambéry.

Woman in Chambéry by Chamussy (1860) 2

 

 

41 thoughts on “The latest winter style in Chambéry, France (1860)

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  1. Love the photo and research you did – but I am So glad to not have this be the fashion today!
    Just updated my winter coat with a thin and stylish down jacket that is lightweight and warm.
    Guess just different times 😉

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  2. The expression on her face clearly translates, “Just try it, Mister.” I would not mess with this woman. As for winter gear, I’ll be sorting it out soon, in hopes that by the time January rolls around, it will be cool enough for a sweater. I have no idea why I’ve kept every favorite winter coat I’ve ever owned, especially since there’s zero chance I’m going to travel north in the winter. But, you never know.

    I still can’t get over the fact that we used to trot around in two feet of snow wearing skirts and heels. I have no idea what we were thinking, but everyone thought it. I’ll bet this gal would be happy with some Gore-Tex for Christmas.

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    1. Heels in snow, good grief! I can’t imagine that. Winter boots should be wide, with soft rubber soles for better traction on ice. In other words, the exact opposite of heels. I don’t blame you for not wanting to come north in the winter. Your January weather sounds pretty good!

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    1. I thought the same thing. Young and reckless! He actually had a good career, operating his studio in Chambéry for 18 years and even exhibiting in Paris. He may have benefited from starting early. The business of studio photography became very competitive later on.

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  3. Her girth at the lower part must have kept people at a distance from her (and other girls and women of the time – pavements/sidewalks must have been very wide, or maybe didn’t exist – would anything have been wide enough to accomodate all that?) I actually wonder if, as well as hoops, if she might have been pregnant…

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    1. It certainly would have been easy to hide a pregnancy. Since it was considered improper for pregnant women to be seen in public, hooped skirts might have given them a freedom they wouldn’t have had otherwise. Interesting thought!

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  4. Those skirts sure took up a lot of space! I remember seeing a painting at Birmingham Museum of two girls basically filling a railway compartment with their skirts. I’ve got a postcard of it, which of course I haven’t handy to show you. I was thinking about the amount of fabric these clothes required to make.
    Btw, someone above mentioned that her skirt would trail in the dirt of the street. For that, you need a skirtlifter: a nifty tool, rather like tongs, but with little discs at the ends so you don’t have the sharp ends digging into your fabric.

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    1. Is the painting you remembered “The Travelling Companions” (1862) by Augustus Leopold Egg? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Travelling_Companions). The description says you can tell that the train is in motion because the tassel of the window blind is swinging. So clever! The view through the window is the coastline of Menton, on the French Riviera. I hope the girls thought to bring a skirtlifter on their holiday, but they look like teenagers, so probably not.

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