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Tag Archives: Regency dress

One of the reasons so many of us love the Regency is the elegance of the clothing: the simplicity, the reliance on truly beautiful lines and well-chosen details rather than fussiness and tight corseting. But among the many beautiful creations of the time there were also some fashion horrors, especially near the end of the period with the advent of Victorian excess.

So here’s my take on the Best and Worst of Regency fashion.

Best #1: from a painting by Constance Mayer (left), 1801, possibly a self-portrait. This is everything I love about Regency style: simple, elegant with just a touch of decoration around the sleeves and a ribbon threaded through the hair. Forever chic.

Best #2: a dress for dancing, circa 1809 (right). With the same elegant lines plus simple gold embellishments, it’s the perfect thing to wear to Almack’s and attract the attention of an eligible lord. (No wonder the Republic of Pemberley chose to incorporate this image into its coat of arms.)

Best #3: Portrait of a lady by Henri François Mulard, ca. 1810 (left). She just looks so pretty, with her simple white dress, nice touches of blue in the sash and fichu, contrasting color in the coral jewelry and the shawl. And her hair is so pretty, too!

Best #4: Walking dress, La Belle Assemblée, 1813 (right). Pretty and white, again with nicely coordinated touches of blue and the gold of the straw bonnet. What a cute little sash at the back, and such dainty footwear. One never knows whom one might meet when out for a stroll, after all!

Best #5: Ingres, Mlle de Senonnes, 1815 (left). Those French women just know how to do it. Velvet in a passionate red, that naughty look-but-don’t touch gauzy neckline, and the froth of lace. The perfect ensemble in which to seduce your rakish romance hero. Tres sexy!

And now for the worst…

Worst #1: A walking dress from around 1810 (right). Look at all those silly tassels, the overly vertical lines, the silly lacing over the breasts. No wonder the dog is barking at her. Hope he snaps off some of those extra tassels.

Worst #2: Bathing Place Evening Dress, 1810 (left). I don’t even know where to begin on this one. What a hideous shape, and that short skirt length, and all those silly ruffles! Makes me think of those frilly things they used to put on lamb chops. Ugh! And this is supposed to be evening wear?

Worst #3: Evening dress, from Ackermann’s Repository, 1816 (right). Now we see a new fussiness in the rosettes, the patterns, the flounces. If you are at all short or plump, you will look like a wedding-cake in this!

Worst #4: Evening dress, 1818 (left). They put everything but the kitchen sink onto this dress: strands of pearls, the sleeves with spiral-wound ruffles of lace, all that padded satin down the front. And that turban! All proof there are always some people who are into conspicuous consumption.

Worst #5: Court dress, modeled by Queen Caroline. How hideous is this???!!! Whoever thought that an empire waist should be combined with a hoop skirt is guilty of the most heinous Fashion Crime of the Millennium.


So what does everyone else think?

Which ensemble would you like to wear? Which one deserves the honor of Best Regency Style?

Which do you think is the least becoming? The overall Worst Fashion Faux Pas of the Regency?

LADY DEARING’S MASQUERADE, RT Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee

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 ( ) but there are others where pictures of real gowns can be found, as the Kent State University Museum:

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:

You can look for vintage costume sellers on line, if not for clothing to buy, but to peruse for research.

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:

Now, for the trimmings: Accessories

Austentation—hats, reticules, and research too:

Ostrichs on Line—feathers, fans, Masks…

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.

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’!)

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.


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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