|I can't see that drab pelisse!|
This will be only the briefest bit of information, as a thorough survey of the topic of Regency fashion could (and has) fill a whole book.
The latter part of the eighteenth and the first twenty years of the nineteenth century were an anomaly of fashion, wedged as they were between eras of flamboyant, Gothic styles. Right around 1800, the crack of women's fashion would be best described as pure Classical. The vertical lines of garments were reminiscent of Greek statuary--indeed, white was a popular color as it hearkened to the marble used to depict ancient goddesses. Long lines conveyed pillars of strength, a sign of courage during this time of war and civil unrest. Hairstyles also emulated classic Greek design--curls piled atop the head, held back with bandeaus and turbans, with loose tendrils framing the face.
|Miss Dashwood, I think your dress may have|
slipped... just a bit... there.
Now, as we all know, the female form is a ghastly thing--particularly the hip region. You think not liking how your butt looks in those jeans is new? Heavens, no. Women have been utilizing textile trickery to conceal and distract the supposed bad parts of their figures for ages. Literally. Like, since the Bronze Age.
The Regency was no different. I'm sure you're all familiar with the typical Regency dress: High waisted, loose skirts that concealed the hips while revealing just about everything else. Materials were thin and clung to the body to emphasize the shapes of the breasts and legs (But not the hips. Gracious.).
|Victoria's Secret catalog, |
Muslin was the fabric of choice for the masses. It was inexpensive, and had a marvelous way of displaying a woman's anatomy just so. It was widely used for undergarments and a whole array of dresses used from morning to night. The most daring, fast women might dampen their chemise so the muslin skirt of the dress would cling closely to the legs (and Catholic schoolgirls thought rolling their waistbands was innovative. Pfft.).
|You know you want to wear that turban.|
If the form of the Regency woman's dress was rather simple, they found a lot of room for fun in the color department. Especially when it came to evening wear, the brighter, the better! Jewel tones and primary colors were popular, and there's good reasoning behind this. The Regency ballroom or dining room was illuminated only by candlelight, with the occasional oil lamp tossed in for variety. The dim, yellow light washed out pale colors. Only the boldest shades stood up to contemporary luminary shortcomings. White was a popular choice for gowns, too, and was mandatory for a young lady's debut ball. Satins and silks reflected light nicely. Metal adornments like spangles sewed onto skirts and turbans, silver and gold thread worked into lace, and jewelry added sparkle to catch a gentleman's eye and show your rivals you mean business.
I hope you've enjoyed this very brief foray into Regency women's fashion! There is so much more to explore. Maybe we'll revisit the topic again in a future post.