When one writes in the Regency era one must pay attention to fashion. In fact, the fashions of the Regency are one of the things I love about the time period. Usually, though, when I think of fashion, I think of the beautiful empire gowns for my ladies. When my editor’s revisions for my next Warner book, Desire in His Eyes (aka Blake’s story), included a comment, “describe how he looks” I realized I had to think about my Regency hero’s clothes. The question – would the breeches of his formal wear be white or black?
I have an aversion to thinking of my hunky heroes in white or buff-colored breeches and white stockings. I prefer them in boots up to the knee and form-fitting pantaloons, but no Regency gentleman would wear boots to a formal affair. Goodness, he’d be turned away from Almack’s in an eyeblink.
So I went on the web, to see what I could find. I used Yahoo and put in “Mr. Darcy Pride & Prejudice” and selected “Images”. As I hoped I got a lot of Colin Firth and Matthew MacFadyen, but none showing their legs. Not in formal attire anyway.
But I did find these, from a site called www.paperdollparade.com that is no longer in existence.
Which do you like better?
Then I found these really charming illustrations from the 1895 C. E. Brock editon of Pride and Prejudice. Notice Mr. Collins is wearing black breeches and stocking. We know he isn’t stylish.
But the issue is the same. Boots?
Well, I described Blake, my hero in Desire in His Eyes, wearing buff breeches and white stockings.
But I got him back into boots as soon as I could.
Mariella, the heroine, got him out of them, though.
Hmm, it’s a little tough to see them, but I have to go with boots. But hey, in the end, it doesn’t matter as long as all the heroines get their heroes out of them. 😉
Boots. Boots. Boots.
But they are demmed uncomfortable.
And I keep hearing about so-and-so’s soft, well-made boots. Ever wore riding boots for an extended period of time? Yowsa. Soft at the ankle maybe, but try sitting down on a low settee with those things digging at the back of your knee.
(Which must be why heroes are always shown with their legs sprawled in front of them. No other way to sit, really.)
(When I was in college, I was on a competitive riding team. Had to attend Organic Chemistry lectures in my custom-made, so-you’d-think-they’d-fit, boots.)
Isn’t Mr. Collins wearing clergyman uniform? Hence the black?
Trouble with boots is getting them off in al fresco situations (without a bootjack around)–much indignified heaving before the really undignified heaving begins.
And, hey, did you know men wore garters then too? Is this full of erotic potential or just silly?
I have come across history that breeches are worn with boots even in the Regency period and have read Regencies that were published in the 60’s and so forth describing their hero’s in “boots ‘n breeches”. I think that’s how I imagine attractive hero’s to be wearing. In Medieval times that was how mens clothes were discribed…in real documents ect..
Well I definitly love the boots idea, with the breeches that come in all colours & often fabrics, especially when the herione makes the hero take them off 😉
So I too love fashion, from dresses to mens clothes, not counting jewelry! So I find it fun!
I hope I explianed myself right…:)
Boots are definitely sexier, but I can see the awkwardness that might ensue if you have dozens of men clumping around dance floors in them. 🙂 You know, Diane, now that you mention it, I think they DO often show the men in JA movies from the waist up. Hmmmm…
I think boots are great for the outdoors, but they’d be pretty awkward in a ballroom! 🙂 When I go Regency dancing I wear soft shoes. Boots are great for riding, but not that comfortable even for walking, let alone dancing. (Though presumably the oh-so-common Hessians would be more comfortable, since they were not knee high.)
And Janet brings up an EXCELLENT point. A bootjack is required for boot removal, if they’re fitted correctly. (It’s been so long since I wore high boots that I had forgotten. *blush*)
Have a very long story about my veterinarian friend who broke her ankle while competing. Got the the hospital just as the pain made her delerious and refused to give the ER staff permission to cut her custom ($400) boots. So our mutual friend, a very matter of fact trainer, said, “Fine. If you won’t give them permission, then we’ll just pull them off for you.”
Gave a swift yank to the boot and, after the screams subsided, permission was miraculously granted. (The ER nurses were both horrified and amused.)
I’m all for boots myself, but check out this quote from Katie Hickman’s wonderful book COURTESANS, about Harriette Wilson considering an applicant for her attention, the very young Marquis of Worcester:
“‘There he is!’ exclaimed the Duke of Leinster to Harriette one night at the opera. ‘Do not you observe a a very tall young fellow, in silk stockings… Upon my honour, he won’t wear trousers or curl his hair, because he heard that you dislike it.'”
(And — btw — I’m never using the absurd-sounding “pantaloons” again, now that I’ve got proof that “trousers” was used as early as 1806 or so.)
ahhh…but there are many types of boots, high heeled which is hard, or soft tred where it’s flat and soft, using soft leathers, I like using those best, besides I don’t want my hero that I’m writting clanking about in cowboy sounding boots, though I like cowboy boots…..he defintly shall be wearing soft treded boots..they also used them alot for spies in books.. Oh well..what fun it is to write about fashion! 🙂 oh I did find this Regency boot site :
I enjoyed the site, Mallory. Pam, I investigated the difference between pantaloons and trousers, and its pantaloons that are form-fitting. Trousers are looser and can be baggy.
I’m sure most readers don’t care though….
Boots or breeches?
Makes no difference to me, as long as the underlying musculature is worth writing about.