Cold Weather and the Regency

Temperatures in Virginia dipped into the teens this past week necessitating winter clothes. I pulled out my warmest coat and thought about what a Regency lady would wear in winter.

The Regency occurred during the little ice age in Europe and winters were cold. In the early 1800s ladies succumbed to a flu epidemic in great numbers. It was called the “muslin disease,” because the fashions of the day were too flimsy for the cold weather, with their thin fabrics and minimal underclothes. Ladies were not protected from the cold. Fashion had to find some way for ladies to stay warm.


Shawls were one popular fashion solution. They were made of long oblong pieces of fabric or were square and folded into a triangle. They could be fringed and embroidered or made of cashmere or woven into a paisley pattern.


The spencer was a close-fitting, waist-length jacket. With the empire waists of the Regency dress, the spencers could be quite short. In winter the spencer could be fur-lined, covered by a fur cape called a pelerine, or a fur tippet (a fur scarf).


A pelisse was an even warmer choice for winter. It also could be fur-lined. A pelisse was a full length, fitted coat.

As you can see, winter wear also included hats and gloves as well.

What is your winter wear?

hh_CALENDAR_2013_small-150x150Don’t forget! The Harlequin Historical Authors Holiday Giveaway has begun. Look here for the Advent calendar and click on today’s date to enter. You can also enter my part of the contest right now. Go here.

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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