Regency Fashion Show
Lady B: Welcome, dear ones! Do come in and make yourselves at home! We have left the gentlemen at home today so we might take an afternoon to revel in our female fripperies. They don’t understand our preoccupation with looking well! I’m sure they’d prefer all women to go around naked, never mind that it is practically November. In any case, Ms. Foley has offered us a trunk show today of all the latest fashions. So help yourselves to a glass of champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberry, and sit back for our fashion show.
Gaelen: Good day, my august Ballroomarians. Fashionable creatures that you are, I thought you might enjoy some photos of Regency style clothing that I took at the Jane Austen Center in Bath and the Bath Costume Museum. Visitors are very fortunate that they let you take pictures at both places. Enjoy the show!
First, a nice ensemble of male formal-wear, pre-1810 because of the knee breeches. The lovely dark blue tailcoat is double breasted, and the patterned waistcoat coordinates. A nice fluffy sort of cravat (possible the Romantic style knot), and note also the way the sleeve ruffle of the white shirt drapes below the cuff of the coat sleeve. This display was in the Jane Austen Center, Bath….
This group is also from the Jane Austen Center in Bath. Shown (Left to Right) are: a woman’s day dress with lace shawl, typical day-wear for a male child, and a girl’s white muslin gown….
Next, two ladies of the earlier part of the Regency in white muslin ballgowns. Note the beautiful white-on-white embroidered trains, high waists, and the all-important accessory, the India/kashmir/Persian shawl artfully draped over each young beauty’s arm! Bath Costume Museum. They are tres elegantes….
Ladies’ Daywear. This mannequin is shown wearing a spencer (jacket) over a simple white day-dress. Note the fashionable plume on her bonnet and the reticule (purse) in coordinating colors hanging from her arm. Jane Austen Center, Bath….
More ladies’ daywear. These ladies are dressed for cooler weather in long-sleeved gowns in a heavier, patterened fabric:
(Left) A dress like the lady on the Left is wearing could work as half-mourning because it has a checked pattern with black in it. I was particularly delighted with this figure because if you look closely, she is wearing spectacles like a good Regency bluestocking heroine. You might not be able to see it in the less-than-great photo, but she also has a “tucker” or fichu tucked into the neckline of her gown for added warmth and modesty.
(Right ) The figure on the right is wearing a brown pelisse. (Not sure of the fabric here–it’s shiny, possibly a satin blend.) Note her small, wispy bonnet and oversized reticule. (She must carry everything but the kitchen sink around in her purse like I do.) Bath Costume Museum….
Any shoe girls out there? Regency ladies’ shoes. Check out the pair of “kid half boots” in the middle. These look pretty basic for daywear, but fancy versions in embroidered velvet or other rich fabrics could be worn with evening gowns. On either side of the half boots, the little shoes closely resembles ballet slippers. Slippers like these could be worn for day or evening….
Never enough shoes… More slippers. Note that the pair on the Left, of kid leather, are laced up with a ribbon. The middle ones look like dancing slippers to me, again probably of kid leather, but the pair on the right could be of satin. Bath Costume Museum.
So there you have it!
Lady B: Don’t forget, my darlings, Lady Miranda held a Regency Project Runway here in August if you missed it. If you you had not yet joined us here at the Ballroom, you might like to review her wonderful prints of ugly Regency clothes, where we got to vote for the ugliest outfit. It was wonderfully snarky good fun that day, making fun of fashion disasters.
Gaelen: Also, if you do want more details on Regency clothes, you are welcome to visit the following links to articles on my website. The Lady’s Wardrobe: http://www.gaelenfoley.com/archives_history1.html and The Gentleman’s Wardrobe: http://www.gaelenfoley.com/archives_history2.html. I wrote them a few years ago, but that’s the beautiful thing about Regency clothes. They never go out of style. *g*
<First stare! All the kick!>
Thank you, Albert.
[By the way, ladies, I'll be hosting the Saturday Salon, as well, and I'm planning on talking more about clothes and fashion as they are illustrated in the Regency-era movie, "Bright Star," which is about the life and romance of John Keats and his fashionable ladylove, Fannie Braun. If you have seen the movie, or are able to stream it instantly over the net and would like to discuss it with me, that would be awesome. (Netflix can stream it instantly. I'm sure it's available elsewhere if you use that sort of thing.) The costumes and sets are particularly fine. Just a heads up in advance if anyone else is able to see it Thurs, Fri or Sat night. ]
Here is a trailer for the movie:
But back to the subject at hand. I love looking at real clothes from the period. How do you think clothes like these would have made you feel if you were a Regency woman, or how might they have impacted your everyday movements?
As a writer, I am always pondering how elements of historical settings interacted, like clothes picking up the smell of the hearthfire or the stiffness of a cravat against the man’s neck, or the thinness of those little shoes thru which you must have been so aware of cold winter floors in those big houses before the days of central heating. It makes the period come alive for me.
Any of those sorts of images strike you? What does it make you think of?
Period movies give us a great chance to see how Regency clothes moved and looked and how they might have felt with people wearing them. Any memorable moments come to mind for you from Regency-era movies you’ve seen, where they did something cool with the clothes in the context of the historical world?
Off the top of my head, I think of the Emma movie with Gwyneth Paltrow and her so-cool archery gloves…
Also the Keira Knightly Pride & Prejudice getting the hem of her walking dress all muddy on her long walks.
What do you imagine it would be like to spend a few days in the Regency time wearing Regency clothes? What would you want to experience? Or, lol, what would you want to avoid? I’m all ears.