• Regency,  Research

    Accessory Vices

    A few days ago I went into DSW to the clearance section looking to see if I could replace some everyday sandals that have gotten a bit ratty this summer. I didn’t find my sandals, but I came out with these. They begged me to take them home with me; they fit, they’re my favorite color and they’re sparkly. Just right for running around Price Chopper!
    I don’t know if I would have had a shoe thing during the Regency. Ladies’ shoes tended to be simple, kind of like ballet flats we might wear now. Here is an example from the Northampton Central Museum, found on the footwear page at Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion (one of my favorite online resources on Regency costume). These shoes are circa 1810 and leather, so not quite as delicate as they might look. Styles became plainer (and more round-toed) as the era progressed. Although flats are cute, there is just not enough variety for me to want to collect them.
    I suspect that hats were the accessory vice of choice for many Regency ladies. However, many styles of hat that I like on other people don’t look good on me. So I rarely wear hats, but when I do, I have a simple crocheted wool hat for winter and a straw cloche for summer. I wouldn’t be able to pull off any of these elaborate styles from 1811. I’d end up wearing something small and simple. Cute, but one or two would be enough.
    So my vice of choice would probably be jewelry. I probably have even more pairs of earrings than shoes, though that isn’t as expensive as it  sounds. I like costume jewelry best; it’s often as pretty as the “real” stuff and I don’t have to fret about losing it.
    During the Regency, I think I would be happy with paste and pinchbeck. Paste was the term for a type of glass that was cut to resemble gemstones. It takes a better eye than mine to distinguish the stones in these earrings from diamonds.
    Pinchbeck was an alloy of base metals that looks enough like gold to please me. I’ve long admired this set of earrings from www.georgianjewelry.com, one of my favorite places to window shop for my heroines.
    Do you have any accessory vices? If you were a Regency heroine, how would you spend your pin-money?
    Elena
  • Regency,  Research

    What’s Haute, What’s Not, Part II

    When I was putting together last week’s post on best and worst Regency dress fashions, I also ran across many…um…inspiring images of headgear. As with the dresses, some were gorgeous and flattering (just what we like to see on a proper Regency heroine) and some were downright ridiculous (let’s save them for comic villainesses, please!)

    Some of my favorites:

    Best #1 (upper left): 1810, from Ackermann’s. This style was called a “cottage hat”. I think it’s nice and simple and just the thing to go with the elegant dresses of the time. It also strikes me as a bit 1920’s ish, but I’m no expert on that.

    Best #2 (right): 1811, also from Ackermann’s. For me, this is the right way to use flowers. Not too many (even though it does look rather as if she has a bee in her bonnet!) and the asymmetry is cute.

    Best #3 (left): A gypsy hat, popular for country wear throughout the early 19th century. Nice and casual and, in the days before SPF 45, good protection for that delicate skin. I also saw a portrait of a somewhat older woman wearing one of these, and it looked great on her, too.

    Best #4 (right): Gilmore’s portrait of Sarah Reeve Ladson, 1823. Turbans often look ridiculous to me, but this one struck me as kinda cool, exotic, maybe a bit Byronic. Not everyone could pull this off, but if you have this sort of sultry dark coloring, I think it works.

    Now for the sublimely ridiculous…

    Granted, some of these are caricatures of contemporary styles, but they give us an idea of the results of a trend gone wild!

    Worst #1: “Lady Godina’s Rout — or — Peeping-Tom spying out Pope-Joan. Vide Fashionable Modesty”, a March 12th 1796 caricature by Gillray. OK, this one speaks volumes on its own. But I’ll add that feathers do appear to have their use as a hiding-place. Also, perhaps, to balance out wide hips????

    Worst #2 (right): French satire on the poke bonnet (“Invisible”); No. 16 in the series of engravings, “Le Suprême Bon Ton” from the second half of the 1810’s. More proof that outrageous millinery has its uses. Any guesses as to what they’re actually doing in there? But of course, these people are French. Need I say more?

    Worst #3 (left): 1810 turban. I’m rather surprised she can stand upright under that thing. Looks like she’s wearing a miniature beanbag chair on her head, and the feathers look like they came from an anemic rooster. If you’re going to wear dead bird feathers on your head, at least invest in some good peacock or pheasant!

    Worst #4: 1817, The Lady’s Magazine. Everything I’ve heard about carriages of the time indicates they were rather small. Did the lady wearing this have to crawl in on hands and knees? Just think about what she might have exposed in doing so! OTOH maybe this is a style adopted by petite women in a vain attempt to look taller. You’re not fooling anyone, dears, just embrace who you really are!

    Worst #5: 1818, from La Belle Assemblée. These bonnets trimmed with a profusion of flowers and/or fruit make me wonder. Imagine you’re wearing the latter out for a drive with a rakish gentleman, and then unexpected weather drives you to seek shelter in some secluded cottage or barn (of course that never happens in novels!). Perhaps you could disassemble and eat it.

    Actually, I have to admit this last one is kinda fun, the sort of thing that would be a blast to wear to a costume party, for laughs. I think it would be fun to wear a turban sometime, too, though most of them seem a bit . . . dowagerish. For now, I’d rather see myself as a stylish matron.

    So, Riskies and dear guests, which hats do you like, or think you would most enjoy wearing?

    Elena
    LADY DEARING’S MASQUERADE, RT Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee
    www.elenagreene.com

  • Regency,  Research

    The Right Fabric and Accessories


    Continuing my sewing theme from last week, I am going to provide a few links for finding period fabrics and accessories.

    Fabrics aren’t that hard if you know what you are looking for. If you know something about period fabrics, you are ahead of the game.

    The best way of getting an idea what fabrics of the time were like is to look at real Regency gowns. There are sites on the internet—unfortunately, Cathy Decker’s Regency site is on the fritz again ( http://hal.ucr.edu/~cathy/reg3.html ) but there are others where pictures of real gowns can be found, as the Kent State University Museum:
    http://dept.kent.edu/museum/costume/bonc/3timesearch/tsnineteenth/1800-1829/1800-1829.html

    There are samples of fabrics also on Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion site, which also happens to be an invaluable resource when considering your first costume.
    Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion on fabric:
    http://www.songsmyth.com/fabric.html

    You can look for vintage costume sellers on line, if not for clothing to buy, but to peruse for research.
    http://www.meg-andrews.com/

    Once you have an idea what type of fabric you need, you can find the right kind of cotton print, for instance, in a Joann’s Fabrics. Here are some sources that offer more specialized fabrics including vintage reproductions:

    http://www.farmhousefabrics.com/

    http://www.reproductionfabrics.com/index.php?

    Now, for the trimmings: Accessories

    Austentation—hats, reticules, and research too:
    http://www.austentation.com/home.html

    Ostrichs on Line—feathers, fans, Masks…
    http://www.ostrichesonline.com/index.html

    A site with a shop for various items including US Civil War and Victorian costume, but many items could be used for the Regency as well, including the ladies’ corsets. Click Victorian clothing, then Ladies (if you are a lady!) to see the choices.
    http://www.ushist.com/index.html

    Frederick’s of Hollywood for their renaissance corset, which creates the “right line” for a Regency lady (unless you are undressing in public, no one will know it isn’t fully ‘period’!)
    http://www.fredericks.com/product.asp?catalog%5Fname=Holiday2002&category%5Fname=Corsets%2DIntimate+Fashion+Styles&product%5Fid=50640

    Check wedding gown suppliers for things like flat shoes (dyeable) and long gloves. Certain flat dance shoes can double for Regency shoes as well. Lastly….you all know this…there is Ebay.

    Ebay is where I have found the classic Javamar shawl (NOT in pure cashmere, but close enough, with the woven pattern and length that wealthy Regency Ladies used with their gowns), reproduction Georgian jewelry, vintage hats, vintage fans, long leather gloves and vintage style fabrics. I have also done searches for parasols and walking sticks.

    I am stopping here…I am somewhat limited by being on a newer computer, and I have not yet found a way to copy my shortcuts from my old computer onto this one. (Somehow I can’t copy my old, huge favorites file to disk—sigh). But hopefully this helps you on your costume venture.

    Laurie

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