A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness;
A lawn* about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction;
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher**;
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribands to flow confusedly;
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat;
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility:
Do more bewitch me, than when art
Is too precise in every part.
*A lawn is a semi-sheer cotton or linen (so-called lawn cotton) shawl. Lawn gets its name from the French city of Laon where it was originally manufactured.
**A stomacher is a triangular piece of fabric that fits in the front of a woman's gown. "Enthral" literally means to make a slave of or hold prisoner.
Structural note: the poem is divided into two main clauses. The first is contained in lines one and two; the second takes up the rest of the poem. Lines three through twelve contain five two-line noun clauses, all acting as the subjects of the verb Do in line thirteen.
The illustration is A Lady Reading Eloise and Abelard by Jean-Baptiste Greuze