Get your flu shot, and other 18th-century tips for looking fabulous

Get your flu shot, and other 18th-century tips for looking fabulous

Maybe you’re like me, and you get the flu shot every year because you (1) have a weird sense of public duty about it and (2) can’t afford to get sick. Maybe you’re just particularly freaked out about diseases and public health these days. (Or maybe you’re wary and want to read about some flu shot myths.)

Regardless, let Marie-Antoinette’s vaccine-themed hairstyle persuade you to get your flu shot this year. Gio from History And Other Thoughts explains (excerpted from the book Rose Bertin, the Creator of Fashion at the Court of Marie-Antoinette by Emile Langlade):

The King had been vaccinated on June 18, 1774. The custom of inoculation in use for centuries among the peoples in the vicinity of the Caspian Sea had been imported into England from Constantinople in 1738, and into France in 1755. The operation on the King gave [celebrated royal dressmaker] Mlle. Bertin a new idea; the pouf a l’inoculation celebrated the occasion.

It represented a rising sun, and an olive-tree laden with fruit, round which a serpent was twisted, holding a flower-wreathed club. The classical serpent of Esculapius represented medicine, and the club was the force which could overcome disease. The rising sun was the young King himself, great-grandson of the Roi-Soleil, to whom all eyes were turned. The olive-tree was the symbol of peace, and also of the tender affection with which all were penetrated at the news of the happy success of the operation which the King and the Royal Family had undergone.

Sadly, I can’t find any pictures of this no-doubt-fabulous coiffure. However, Carlyn at The Raucous Royals has more info about these enormous hairdos, including this image of Marie-Antoinette in her coiffure a l’Independence (supporting the American Revolution):

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Daaaamn, girl!

And finally, Dressed in Time points us toward some fascinating (and often gross!) tidbits about 18th century wigs. If you haven’t been eating as healthy as you should (and really, who does?), why not turn your head into an enormous salad bowl?

Marie also wore the poufalajardiniere, which included artichokes, carrots, radishes and even the head of a cabbage. This pouf may have been a poufausentiment. A hairstyle to express a feeling. One lady at court is quoted saying, “I shall never again wear anything but vegetables! It looks so simple, and is so much more natural than even flowers.”

You can laugh, but that would go GREAT with my kale sweater and potato peel jeggings.

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Every Girl’s Crazy ‘Bout a Sharp-Dressed Man

Every Girl’s Crazy ‘Bout a Sharp-Dressed Man

Addison speaking on women’s weakness for dress, in Tatler issue 151 (1710):

“Many a lady has fetched a sigh at the toss of a wig, and been ruin’d by the tapping of a snuff-box. It is impossible to describe all the execution that was done by the shoulder-knot where that fashion prevailed, or to reckon up all the virgins that have fallen a sacrifice to a pair of fringed gloves. A sincere heart has not made half so many conquests as an open wa[i]stcoat . . .”

YESSS. Also, if you don’t know, dandies and fops loved snuff-boxes and writers loved giving them shit about it. Speaking of fops, here’s fop-rocker/New-Waver Adam Ant, singing about the life of a dandy highwayman while being incredibly swoon-worthy:

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Mustaches and Power-Chins: footnotes to “Absalom and Achitophel”

Mustaches and Power-Chins: footnotes to “Absalom and Achitophel”

Rereading “Absalom and Achitophel” and “Mac Flecknoe” this week, which are made much more exciting by the extensive footnotes in the California edition from H. T. Swedenberg, Jr. (citation below). (I’ve become kind of obsessed with the idiosyncratic details in footnotes and introductions; in the New Mermaids edition of Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer, for example, editor Tom Davis informs us that “Goldsmith’s appearance and personality got him nowhere with the ladies.”)

Swedenberg’s footnote on George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, gives us fun stuff like this description of him written by Samuel Butler (of “Hudibras” fame):

(I’m bolding my favorite parts and artificially breaking it up into paragraphs to make it easier to read):

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Bed, bath, & beyond: chamber pots

Bed, bath, & beyond: chamber pots

Warning: this post may contain paintings of ladies peeing. Oh no, I just realized that is where all my future site hits are going to come from.

Saw this today on Two Nerdy History Girls when I was slacking off from reading Locke: “Strange English Dining Customs and Furniture“:

“Will it be credited, that, in a corner of the very dining room, there is a certain convenient piece of furniture [chamber pot], to be used by any body who wants it. The operation is performed very deliberately and undisguisedly, as a matter of course, and occasions no interruption of the conversation.” (from Louis Simond’s 1810-1811 Journal of a Tour and Residence in Great Britain)

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