What To Wear In Winter

We’ve just been through a very cold patch of winter here in Northern Virginia, with snow and ice and below freezing temperatures. Parts of the US are seeing even worse. So bundling up and keeping warm have been on my mind these days.

In absence of any other ideas for a Risky Regencies blog topic, I searched “winter” on the Regency Encyclopedia, and came up with What To Wear In Winter in The Regency.

From A Lady of Distinction   –   Regency Etiquette, the Mirror of Graces (1811)
R.L. Shep Publications (1997)

1812 Nov

Satin, Genoa velvet, Indian silks and kerseymere may all be fashioned into as becoming an apparel for the slender figure as for the more en bon point and the warmth they afford is highly needful to preserve health during the cold and damps of winter.

The mantle or cottage-cloak should never be worn by females exceeding a moderate en bon point and we should recommend their winter garbs to be formed of double sarsenet or fine Merina cloth, rather than velvets, which (except black) give an appearance of increased size to the wearer.

Red Morocco, scarlet, and those very vivid hues cannot be worn with any propriety until winter, when the color of the mantle or pelisse may sanction its fullness.

I love the emphasis on looking slim! Some things never change.  And look how similar the colors are to what we wear in winter. I love the rich deep colors of winter clothing.

From Buck, Anne M.   –   Contrib to The Regency Era 1810-1830
The Connoisseur Period Guide (1958)

White muslin was for the whole period pre-eminent for morning wear. Only in the months of mid-winter did the hardy Englishwoman abandon it for silk, poplin or wool.

Nothing sets the dress of 1800-20 so much apart from the style before and the style which followed as the scarcity of the underwear beneath it. A chemise of linen, long, reaching well below the knee; light flexible stays; a petticoat, cotton in warm weather, fine flannel in winter; and then the gown or slip. Many of the muslin gowns were worn over a silk slip.

Straw bonnets were worn during the summer months for walking, Leghorn or fine Dunstable straw, usually plainly trimmed. Fashionable for all the summers of 1815-30, they remained comparatively plain even in the years of excessive trimming. In winter black velvet replaced them.

Black velvet hats sound divine! And note how the lady was supposed to wear as little underwear as possible! Hearty Englishwoman, indeed!

From Cunnington, C. Willett – English Women’s Clothing in the Nineteenth Century
Dover reprint of 1937 original (1990)

The summer pelisse was unlined, the winter pelisse was lined.And more on undergarments by Cunnington, C. Willett & Phillis – The History of Underclothes

And more on undergarments by Cunnington, C. Willett & Phillis – The History of Underclothes Dover (1992)

The petticoat was made of cotton, cambric, linen or for winter, sometimes fine flannel.

The idea of “fine flannel” underwear sounds lovely on this cold, damp day!

De Courtais, Georgine – Women’s Hats, Headdresses and Hairstyles
Dover Publications (2006) says

In winter caps and hats (1800-1810) were often trimmed with fur to match similar edging on robes and coats, but a wide range of materials was used both for the hats and for their trimmings.

I love the fur trimmings. Now we can do this in faux fur and still be animal-friendly!


And for the gentleman, from Kelly, Ian – Beau Brummell, The Ultimate Man of Style
Free Press (2006)

Brummell also ordered surtouts or greatcoats from Schweitzer and Davidson for winter wear. They were significantly heavier garments, so much so that they were not

ed in the weighing books at (wine merchants) Berry Brothers. Made out of even heavier worsteds and “Norwich stuff” – another feltlike beaten wool – they were still exquisitely cut and molded.


What is your favorite winter garment?

I like my cashmere gloves and the new scarf I received for Christmas.

I have a new contest on my blog! Enter here.


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9 years ago

Thanks for all the cool info and images. A flannel petticoat and velvet both sound very nice.

My current favorite item of winterwear is a new pair of everyday running-around boots: cute on the outside, fuzzy/warm on the inside.

Jane George
9 years ago

The cold isn’t as bad as the damps.

I like that you wrote about flannel. I think Mr. Darcy would’ve approved.

Laurel Hawkes
9 years ago

You remembered last week, Diane. Today’s post was appropriate for the weather. It’s been amazingly cold and wet here. We should have a spectacular spring. I have a black coat given to me by a friend who grew up in NYC. It must be truly cold for me to wear it; otherwise I roast. I do love having it for the mornings when we actually reach freezing temperatures. Keeps me nice and toasty. I also have ski mittens (never skied in my life); they have a lovely flannel lining. I’ve also discovered the wonders of hoodies in keeping my head warm. 🙂

9 years ago

My favorite winter wardrobe item are my German snow boots. I’ve had them for years, but I only get to wear them maybe once a year. They are white leather with an incredible quilted fleece lining. They cost me a fortune back in the 80’s when I lived in Germany, but they are still in great shape and kept my feet toasty warm on the coldest of days. I like my flannel lined gloves too.

Happy Birthday Pride and Prejudice! Or should I say Happy Anniversary Mr. and Mrs. Darcy?

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