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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Guest Post: Author Ella Quinn on Regency Ladies' Fashions

Please welcome author Ella Quinn, who is here to discuss Regency ladies' fashion in celebration of her release, The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh. My review is posted here
The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh (The Marriage Game, #2)

Although I was reading Regencies for about forty years before I started writing them, and knew a great deal about the clothing. I soon discovered that reading about a gown was not the same as writing about it. Thus the research began. There are whole books and blogs concerning how a well-bred Regency lady would dress (please note that the word “dress” was a verb during the Regency, the garment was a “gown.”) Now, to go though the entire wardrobe would make for a very long post, so this is by no means exhaustive.
There were day gowns, usually of thin muslin and worn at home, walking gowns, carriage gowns, riding dress, evening gowns and ball gowns, and this list is not exhaustive. The typical Regency lady could change up to 6 times a day.
What young unmarried ladies wore differed in color and material from what older or married ladies could wear.
Let’s start with the undergarments. The first thing a most women would don is a chemise, also called a shift, usually made of muslin. It tied in the front so it could be adjusted. Over that she’d wear stays. Some people like to call them corsets, but to me corsets are the heavy ones used during the Victorian era. Regency stays varied and could tie in the front or back, and be long or short. The one thing they had in common was that they were not tight.

Next came petticoats, also of thin muslin. Ladies wore up to five petticoats to add fullness to the gown.

At some point, she’d don stockings made of cotton, silk or wool. Cotton was usually worn during the day, unless it was cold, which is where wool comes in. For evening she’d want silk. These are not the fine thing silk were used to seeing today, but a fairly heavy silk that was quite opaque.
Lastly the gown. For everyday it might be muslin, cotton, or twill, and fine cashmere and velvet for cooler weather. For evening young lady, just out, would most likely wear muslin in pastels. Strong colors weren’t considered proper for a young lady. An older or married lady would wear any of the wide verity of silks, or in colder weather velvets. Pictured below is a day gown, worn at home, walking gowns, and an evening gown.

               Regency Walking Gowns-bookwormRegency Evening Gown-bookworm

To accessorize, there were huge shawls, gloves, reticules, in the winter large muffs, and, of course, bonnets. A lady did not leave the house without wearing gloves and bonnet. Skirt pockets went out of fashion because of the line of the Regency gown, and reticules were used as a purse.
Generally ladies wore half-boots to go walking in. They were made of heavy cloth, such as jean, or leather. For evening they wore slippers.

                             Jean half-boots-bookwormSilk slippers-bookworm

Though there were second hand stores, ladies in the ton would have all their clothes, and shoes custom made. Fabric was very expensive, so clothes were re-cut and styled, new trimmings added, and sometimes gowns were dyed. 

Now please give her some love and check out her new book! Available on all major e-retailers.
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  1. Thanks for the reminder that I am so very happy here in the modern world where I do not have to change clothes every few hours, have help doing so, roast in so many layers, and of course have had to worry excessively when I was young about the colors I wore. :-)

    1. You're welcome. Though, I have to say, you wouldn't have been roasting in England.

    2. Glenda, you are the winner of the giveaway! Please tell me your email and Ella will gift you the book. :)

  2. LOL That's why we have the Renaissance fair, we get to experience life in a different way.

  3. I wouldn't mind dressing up in those gorgeous gowns for fun but give me my tees & shorts anytime!

  4. Enjoyed seeing and reading about what they wore back than. Some of the gowns were gorgeous, but to wear the corsets and the shoes don't look very comfortable. It would be fun to dress up like they did to see what they had to go through and also wear the beautiful gowns.

  5. Actually the stays are comfortable, and the shoes were made for ones feet. Thank you for coming by!!



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