Regency,  Research

Book Report Day!

No, I am not reviewing one of my fellow Risky Regency bloggers’ books–that wouldn’t be risky, would it?
Instead, I thought I’d write about a book I received from my dad, the Enthusiastic Bibliophile, as a birthday gift (note: my birthday was in August, but my dad just sent this. A Timely Enthusiastic Bibliophile he is not).
Anyway. For anyone who’s gotten interested in the Regency period because of the clothing (Amanda? Cara? And I bet the rest of us, too), this is a find. The book is titled Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20 Century, and it is drool-worthy.

Before even opening the book, let’s talk about the presentation. Taschen, a company that’s produced many coolly chic coffee table books, produced this version of the book which costs a lot less than it did in previous editions–follow the link here to get the details. The book is compiled and collected by the Kyoto Costume Institute, which takes its show on the road to museums near you.

The volumes are soft-cover, but are contained within their own little holder, and the cover is just gorgeous. You can see it above, but to see it live is much more impressive.

Then open the book. Volume 1, which is the volume relevant to us: 18th and 19th Century Fashion. Ohmyword. The pictures are huge, clear, and have succinct descriptions, with dates, to give you a clue about what you’re seeing. And you really SEE the clothes here, not just a little tiny picture pulled from some period magazine that doesn’t give you the FEEL of the clothes.

There are men’s and women’s fashions here, and you can track the gradual changes in fashion through the ages. The pictures I’ve posted here are primarily from 1810, although the reticule is 1815. The black outfit is a riding habit–imagine a heroine wearing that as she’s trying to beat the hero in a neck-or-nothing race. The red coat is a redingote, an outer garment that would doubtless keep the heroine (and her muslin gown) free of drafts when she was outside.And in case you thought the current trend for short shrugs was just this century, take a look at the white jacket above–that is as short as anything I’ve seen in Mandee’s lately.
I haven’t spent a lot of time with this fabulous two-volume set yet, but I will be (thanks, Dad!), as much because I am a fan of fashion as I am of the Regency period. Just like our own books (you knew I’d get back there eventually, right?), the Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century books make the period come alive.

Something to look at when I’m wondering just which pair of jeans to don. What was your favorite period for women’s clothing? And is it because your figure is more suited to that style, or for more altruistic aesthetics?


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Cara King
17 years ago

I think the Regency may have the most gorgeous men’s clothing ever! Though the Edwardian men were nice too. 🙂 Oh, and those cute New Wave guys in the 1980’s with the skinny ties? Or is that just me? 🙂

For women, I do think the Regency styles can be very elegant, and attractive…but I think they work best on very slender women.

I have never been a very slender woman. Even at my skinniest, I have always been curvy, so I suit Victorian fashions much better. I think some late Victorian women’s clothes are very attractive. But it’s possible my favorite women’s clothes are from the 18th century. Not the weird panniers, the hoops that stick out to the side and nowhere else — but the other stuff. The Dangerous Liaisons clothes. 🙂


Megan Frampton
17 years ago


I agree with you about the men’s clothing in the Regency. There was a reason they emphasized athletics so much.
I think the Regency styles look best on slender women also. I’m not slender.
I really like Dior’s “New Look” which he unveiled post WWII, but that’s not even 19th century, much less our period. Hm. I will have to go back to the book to figure out what 18th/19th period suits me best.

Cara King
17 years ago

Megan wrote: I’m not slender.

And then Cara laughed a lot.

Megan Frampton
17 years ago


While I appreciate the implied compliment, I really am not slender. I have a slender build up-top–very narrow shoulders–but a not-so-slender build below. I just dress to hide that fact (hence the constant black shade of my clothing).
So Regency attire would make me look more like the letter “A” than I already do.

Cara King
17 years ago

You know, I sort of wonder if during the Regency, they liked the hippy look. (I mean having hips, not the 60s hippies.) 🙂 You see a lot of pictures where we’d think the women look just dreadful — a tiny little top, and then the dress widening and widening as one looks downward to these big hips… We find that an inelegant line, and unflattering design, but perhaps they didn’t….???


Amanda McCabe
17 years ago

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Elena Greene
17 years ago

I like the earlier Regency styles best. Some of the later Regency dresses are pretty but some are over-ornamented for my taste.

I have a hangup re Victorian style, and it comes from having read too many books on the history of women’s health. I’ve read too much about women who tight-laced to hide pregnancies, women who pierced internal organs with their corsets, etc…

Earlier corsets were more of a support garment and weren’t used so aggressively to create a monstrously thin waist.

So, not being at all willowy in build, I have to say I’d probably look best in the simpler 18th century styles. I agree with Cara: nothing too hoopy or weird, but the low bodices, moderately tight waists, lace draping off the sleeves. Yum!


Cara King
17 years ago

I agree with you on the corsets, Elena! When I look at actual photos of Victorian women, their tiny wastes look bizarre and unnatural — and very unattractive. They look truly deformed. But the images we get from movies can be lovely. 🙂


17 years ago

I actually like Regency Dress. Or at least the earlier phase of it. I find Victorian dress rather overhwelming with hoops and bustles (the clothes from Gone with the Wind always frightened me). But my biggest hang up when reading regencies is the mentions of the ladies hair. For some reason I have never liked regency hair styles. The little side curls mentioned for ladies reminds me of descriptions of Jerry Curl…

Cara King
17 years ago

I agree about Gone With the Wind clothes, Naima! It would embarrass me to take up as much room as a small horse! 🙂 And those huge skirts do look bizarre. Just when women were supposed to be the most delicate and mousy, they had clothes that screamed “look at me! I’m the one taking up room here!” Weird.

I like Regency hair, mostly, I think. What I hate in hair are those side sausage curls from the 1830s (or whenever they were — something like that) — those could be so ugly! And of course, 18th century wigs could be ridiculous, but I suspect that few women (or men) wore the most exaggerated kinds… 🙂


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