Sunday, 27 May 2012

It's Getting Hot in Here...

It was almost a year ago that I did a post on Midsummer Pictures of Swelter-y Sweetness, but the last few days have been so amazingly hot that I found myself revisiting Victorian summer imagery.  Frankly, I wasn't doing it with much gusto as it is far too hot.  I have been doing little more than loosening my corset and tumbling onto the chaise longue, fanning myself.  So, if I was a Victorian, how would I be keeping cool?

In Summer (1887) Frank Weston Benson
Well, if I was being properly Victorian, I think I would be sitting around in a white frock, not complaining.  I think I could just manage to remain static if it meant being cool.  I love Benson's girl, she's marvellously calm, relaxing in the shade.  That pale turquoise on the dark chair is beautiful.  So, first of all I need to get a white dress...

A Quiet Cove (Girl Canoeing) (1900) Arthur Hacker
Right, I have my white dress on, and now it seems I should head for water.  The lady above is winsomely canoeing on a pond, and she has stopped to pick a waterlily.  That seems like rather a lot of work for a hot day.  Surely I would have some gallant chap to row me around while I shelter underneath my parasol?  You can't get the help these days...

By Summer Seas Charles Sims
I decided to go to the beach instead, where I will not be required to paddle myself around, just perch on a rock in my enormously frilly dress and hat.  Mind you, the young lady above is suffering the perils of sea breezes.  Well, that's not any help at all.  How am I meant to remain in control of my hat and frilly dress in the bracing summer zephyrs?

Summer on the Beach Paul Fischer
Oh, right, take them off...

A Fjord Near Oslo 1892 Paul Fischer
Oh for goodness sake, ladies, this really is no way to behave!  What would the gentlemen think?

Noonday Heat (1902-3) Henry Scott Tuke
Now, just pack it in!  Really, loosening ones corset is one thing, but stripping off is entirely another!  Also, the nearest beach isn't sand, it's pebbles, and if you think I'm going to sprawl around in my all-together on shingle, you've got another thing coming.  It's all very well until you get up to leave, and then you're covered in a pattern that could be read as Braille.  I'm not going through that again.

The Lark (1882) Pal Szinyei
Yes, I suppose lounging in a meadow isn't so bad, and look at those splendid clouds.  However, I would worry I'd be caught in the rain - although, thinking about it, it's not like you're going to get your clothes wet.  However, I'd probably be gazing enraptured at the spiralling lark and miss the group of ramblers, or scouts.  And I don't fancy going through that again either.

Summer (1894) Leon Frederic
Of course, if you decide to sprawl around nude near a cornfield and you are surprised by the Rough Ramblers, you could always grab this handy disguise and claim to be a personification of a season.  No-one will be any the wiser, especially if you skip off before anyone asks any difficult questions. 

The reason I love these pictures is that the reality of a twenty-first century sudden summer is less than elegant.  I took a turn into town this morning only to be confronted with scorched skin and underwear masquerading as outerwear.  In one case, a young lady had her extremely small hotpants undone and rolled down so her actual pants were on show.  In Tescos.  Heavens.  And people have the nerve to look at me askance if I carry my Chinese parasol and paper fan.

This year I will be holidaying in 1870.  At least there is no pressure to get a tan.  Or wear clothes, apparently.  Sounds perfect.


  1. "again"....?

    Lovely little post. The Nordic attitude to nudity has always been so relaxed compared to us.

  2. Thanks for the comments. Freyalyn, if you don't do it, how can you regret it later? When I was in a certain Scandinavian country, you have to shower before swimming and it's just a big room with someone watching you in case you don't do it properly or you keep your swimming costume on. I think I left a good many inhibitions behind at customs that year...

  3. Some years ago I fulfilled my fantasy of being naked on the beach. It was a small private cove on the California coast. I danced around like a nut and lay on the warm sand, relishing the way the breeze felt on my bare skin. It felt at times like the lightest of silk scarves was touching me just for a moment. This post brought back those memories and made me want to return there. Thank you.

  4. Lounging on the green grass here in Texas results in fire ant bites, chiggers (nasty invisible bugs) bits of trash and little prickly seed pods that hurt and cling. Sometimes little tiny cactus bits choose to hide in the grass as well.

    Wonderful pictures. Makes me wish for a white dress and a parasol.

  5. Just to be clear, The Kissed Mouth in no way endorses the exciting pastime of public nudity. However, if you're somewhere pleasant and no-one is looking, I won't judge you (as long as you don't judge me). Nancy, I agree, I won't even go barefoot in the delightful city I live in...white dress and parasol it is then.

  6. I've been wandering around in floor-length skirt, lacy top and a loose shrug, not revealing cleavage, shoulders or legs, and sheltering under a rather lovely white lace parasol. And sitting in the garden with said parasol, a glass carafe of water and ice, a large rug and some nibbles kept from insects under one of those folding mini-parasol-type-food-protection-doodahs, while sketching flowers. All is not lost, not every modern woman wanders around with their short-shorts unrolled in Tescos. I very nearly wandered around in lace gloves, too, to try and avoid sunburnt hands. Accessorise carry ivory-coloured fingerless lace gloves and I couldn't resist.

  7. Off to Accessorize I go then :) Dear HouseCat, it's good to know that someone is maintaining standards despite the heat!

    1. I've just been pottering in the (cold and Scottish) evening sun in the meadow by my house, and my partner has been photographing me. I'm all white lace and parasols (and very, very red curls - a bit too bright to be Pre-Raphaelite!). I'm going to put some pictures up on my blog next week, if you're interested.

  8. Dear Miss HouseCat has an entirely splendid blog, with some rather gorgeous fashion. Go hence readers and view!

    My M&S skirt has vertical net panels and got me called 'Bellatrix' at Harry Potter world ;)

    1. Thankyou for mentioning my blog *blush* I wasn't sure if you'd found that post yet. I said I was pottering around a meadow in far too much white lace with a parasol, and meant it! Your blog has been linked to twice in my post, as it is a VERY EXCELLENT blog, and it interests me, and hopefully some of my readers will read it and be equally enthused. You do art history without stuffiness, and without being off-putting to people who aren't as knowledgeable as you are, and do so without dumbing down - and that, I think, I is an excellent thing :).

      And while Bellatrix is undoubtably a villainess, she's a very stylish villainess ;)

  9. Bless you HouseCat, we parasol girls must stick together... ;)


Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx