Facts from my Fiction: Bertha Collar/Neckline

eyeI looked longingly at a window display: a beautiful evening gown in sapphire moiré bengaline with a deep bertha neckline. I lifted its hem and examined the stitching, wishing I had use for such a piece. Not only was the price out of my reach, but I had no opportunity for dining out or attending the theatre. I sighed wistfully and returned to the carriage with my small package of ribbon, stockings, and so on.

“I saw you admire the gown in the window,” Erik’s voice came from the darkened carriage; he had drawn the curtains lest he be seen. When I closed the door after entering, there was no light at all.

“It is beautiful,” I admitted. “But I’ve no need for a dress of that nature; I haven’t the opportunities to wear such a gown.” – In The Eye of The Beholder


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Metropolitan Museum of Art (CC0)

A bertha neckline was worn off the shoulders, often trimmed with deep lace (3″ – 6″). The style was most frequently worn by upper- and middle-class women during the Victorian era; a woman from the more common classes would seldom have shown that much flesh.

This gown shows a splendid example of the style.


2019 marks the 10th anniversary of my debut novel, In The Eye of The Beholder.  Want your own copy? Here are the back cover copy and purchasing links:

When French equestrian Claire Delacroix loses her fiancé in a tragic accident, she comes to live at the Paris Opera during its 1890s heyday. Life is not easy for a woman in fin de siècle France, where her rights are determined by a male guardian. Claire, both intelligent and independent, chafes under the strictures of her time.

Whilst working at the opera, she meets a mysterious, masked stranger: Erik. Is it possible that the two of them will heal the pain of each other’s past?

Updated for 2015 with glossaries of equestrian terms and French words used in the text.

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