Category: Clothing & Fashion


Regency Diamonds — A Banked Fire

A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:

Most people today are familiar with modern diamonds which have been cut with great precision, giving them the mathematically exact facet size and number which allows them to reflect and refract light for optimum brilliance or fire. These precise cutting techniques were first discovered and introduced into the diamond industry in the early twentieth century. Yet I have read any number of Regency novels in which the heroine or some other character has acquired a diamond which by description is clearly a diamond of a modern cut, a diamond which could not possibly have existed during the Regency. In fact, all of the diamonds which were available during the Regency would appear rather dull when compared to diamonds cut after the early 1920s.

And now, how the diamond intensified its sparkle across the centuries …


Coal:   Heat Source or Gemstone?

A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:

Both, actually.

Coal is just rock, after all. But a most interesting sedimentary rock, which is not only highly flamable, but it can be fairly easily carved and takes a high polish. However, by the Regency, coal was much more likely to be burned than worn. A concise chronicle of coal culminating in the Regency …


Nighty Night …   By Regina Scott

What is your bedtime routine? How does the bedtime routine of a Regency lady compare with yours? Regency romance author, Regina Scott, whose latest print book is The Wife Campaign, gives us a glimpse into the preparations a Regency lady must make before she could retire for the night. Would you be willing to go throught that, every night?


Did Wellington Save the Hope? — Part Two

A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:

Last week, I wrote about the origins of the rare blue diamond now known as the Hope, and traced its adventures through the end of the eighteenth century, at which point it dropped out of sight. The large deep blue diamond had been discovered in India, purchased by the merchant Tavernier, who in turn sold it to Louis XIV. The king had it cut and faceted, resulting in the gem commonly known as the "French Blue." Louis XV had it set in his jeweled insignia of the Order of the Golden Fleece, where it remained part of the French Crown jewels, until it was stolen, four months before its next owner, Louis XVI, lost his head in the square outside the very building from which it had been taken.

One theory suggests it was taken to England by one of the men who stole it, another that it was part of a group of the stolen Crown jewels which was used to bribe the Duke of Brunswick to abandon his invasion of France and the rescue of Louis XVI and his family. After that, the trail of the French Blue goes cold, until a large blue diamond surfaces in Regency England …


Did Wellington Save the Hope? — Part One

A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:

He certainly did save the hope of England, even of Europe, that June day in Belgium, on the battlefield of Waterloo. But the Hope to which I refer is a precious blue diamond, which, thanks to the efforts of the Duke of Wellington, was not lost to history. And shortly after he prevented its misappropriation, it was acquired by the man whose name it bears, even to this day.

The supposed curse which is attributed to the Hope Diamond is fiction. However, the true story of its real-life adventures are so much stranger than the plot of any novel. Now, how this rare blue diamond glittered its way across Europe, through the hands of crowned heads and cut-throats …


Muff’s the Word!   by Regina Scott

As we move inexorably toward the winter months, choosing just the right accessories to keep our hands warm, snug and fashionable as we prepare for our outdoor activities is an important part of our toilet. But what about our Regency ancestors? What kinds of accessories did those ladies choose as they prepared for a walk or a drive in the frosty winter air?

In today’s article, award-winning romance author and past Beau Monde President, Regina Scott tells us about a lady’s accessory which might well have multiple purposes. How will you answer the questions she poses at the end of her article?


Where are the Cairngorms?

A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:

Over the years, I have read many Regency novels set in Scotland, or which included Scottish characters. And yet, I have not found any mention of cairngorms in the pages of those novels, despite the fact that they are the very rock of Scotland itself. What happened to the cairngorms?

The stony story of the cairngorms of Scotland …


The Wearing of Costume

A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:

Yet again, I have come across another unique and fascinating book while browsing at my local library. A book which I think many authors of Regency novels will find quite informative. This book is about exactly what the title says it is, how to wear the costumes of days gone by. The author’s stated purpose in writing the book was to provide information for actors in movies and plays, and for readers of historical novels, to help them imagine how the characters in the book they are reading would move, based on the constraints of the clothing of the time period in which the story is set. It would seem to me that this book would also be of use to writers of historical novels, as well as to those who enjoy re-enacting historical events.

Some of the more intriguing aspects of the wearing of clothing in England in times past …


Regency Beauty — Part II by Ann Lethbridge

This is the second and final article in Ann Lethbridge’s series on Regency-era beauty products. As we learned from her last article, the use of these products was not restricted to ladies. There were a number of toiletry products which were also regularly used by men during the Regency. She includes an image of an eighteenth-century shaving stand which was sent to her by one of the readers of her first article. A most intriguing contraption.

Ann also offers a home recipe from the era on how to make one’s own lavender water. Once you understand its many benefits, would you consider making some?


Regency Beauty — Part I by Ann Lethbridge

Regency romance author Ann Lethbridge’s most recent novel, Haunted by the Earl’s Touch, is in bookstores now. Today, she shares with us her research into Regency-era cosmetics and toiletries in this first of two articles. Did you know there were depilatories available during the Regency? And that there were also preparations available for men who had lost their hair and wanted to grow it back? The more things change it would appear, the more they stay the same.

Which of these preparations and practices would be part of your toilette?


Fans from Victoria and Albert   By Cheryl Bolen

Cheryl Bolen reviews the Victoria and Albert Museum’s book on Fans in today’s article. She shares some of the history of the origin of the fan and its use in Georgian England. Fans have had a place in many Georgian and Regency novels since the origin of the genre. Do you remember that scene in Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades, when Justin, Duke of Avon, used his new fan of chicken skin to annoy his friend, Hugh Davenant? How many romance heroines have employed a fan to great effect in a dalliance with the hero?

Fans are one of those lovely accouterments of a bygone age which few of us use today. But they are still fascinating to many of us, nonetheless. Delicate and beautiful, they can become a weapon in the hands of a woman who knows how to wield it. Fair warning, if you read this review, you may find yourself with a strong desire to own a copy of this book yourself.


It’s What’s on Top That Counts   By Regina Scott

Regina Scott, Regency romance author, spent some time in Washington, D. C. during a cold snap. The sudden appearance of a plethora of hats in the city prompted her to think about the hats and bonnets worn by so many of those who lived during the Regency. In today’s article, Regina shares her thoughts about Regency hats.


The Pocket Housewife

A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:

No, this is not the married version of the "pocket venus" who makes her small but mighty appearance in the occasional Regency novel. Yet both terms did have their origins in the mid-eighteenth century. However, though "pocket venus" was a term for a beautiful, curvaceous woman of small stature, the housewife to be discussed here was, and is, even today, extremely useful and can be quite lovely, but is not human at all. This small item found favor with both women and men during the Regency.

Recently, Charles Bazalgette published a brief article on his blog, Prinny’s Taylor, about an item which was supplied to the Prince of Wales’ household by his ancestor, Louis Bazalgette, who was tailor to the Prince for thirty-two years. This item, "a striped silk Housewife," is described as being filled with various sewing notions and intended for the use of the Prince’s pages. Mr. Bazalgette was not quite sure what this item actually was, and I realized that there are probably many others who might not be familiar with these "housewives," and how they were made and used during the Regency.


Courting and Marriage in the Regency   by Cheryl Bolen

Are you planning a big wedding scene in your next Regency novel, the bride in a brand-new white wedding gown and veil, a flock of bridesmaids in matching gowns, and a church-ful of guests throwing rose petals as the happy couple leaves the church? You may want to re-think all of that after you read the article Cheryl Bolen has for us today.

How couples really courted and married in Regency days …


What is Shagreen?

A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:

And why should you care? Well, it was everywhere during the Regency, and the word actually referred to more than one material, each of which could be put to a different purpose, though all were somewhat similar in appearance. The uses for shagreen ranged from carpentry to scientific instruments to high fashion.

Those living in the Regency would have known the difference, and I thought perhaps those of us who like to slip back to that decade through novels set during that time would like to share that knowledge. To avoid chagrin, or perhaps, to embrace it?


The Origins of the Modern Look Men’s Clothing by Maggi Andersen

 The Origins of the Modern Look Men’s Clothing

18th Century –  21st Century by Maggi Andersen

I don’t pretend to be an expert on fashion. I wanted to show some of the changes which have taken place over the last few hundred years to men’s clothing, as well as the styles which have remained constant.

I’ve added a few tidbits I thought might be of interest. I’ve had to be selective here –the military influence on fashion, for example, is for another blog.


A Primer on Regency Era Women’s Fashion by Kristen Koster

A Primer on Regency Era Women’s Fashion by Kristen Koster.

"Parisian Ladies in their Full Winter Dre... “Parisian Ladies in their Full Winter Dress for 1800″, an over-the-top exaggerated satirical Nov. 24th 1799 caricature print by Isaac Cruikshank, on the excesses of the late-1790s Parisian high Greek look, and the too-diaphanous styles allegedly sometimes worn there. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is an overview of women’s fashions in the Regency Era and the apparel they changed in and out of multiple times per day. This list isn’t exhaustive by any means and is rather representative of the upper classes rather than the working classes, but should give a good foundation in recognizing what an author is talking about and why they’re so focused on their characters being fashion conscious.

Before we get into the individual items of clothing, it’s important to realize some phrases we use today didn’t mean quite the same thing 200 years ago. For example, when we say “She was in a state of undress.” or “She was caught en dishabille.” The folks of the regency wouldn’t have batted an eye. It was quite common for ladies to entertain guests in their boudoirs while dressed in comfortable, but concealing gowns and robes. The terms “undress”, “half-dress” and “full-dress” were degrees of formality, not coverage.

“Undress” meant simply casual, informal dress in the Regency period. This would be the type of dress worn from early morning to noon or perhaps as late as four or five, depending on one’s engagements for the day. Undress was usually more comfortable, more warm, more casual, and much cheaper in cost than half dress or full dress.

“Half Dress” is perhaps one of the most difficult concepts to grasp about Regency Fashion. Basically it is any dress halfway between Undress and Full Dress. In modern terms it might be thought of as dressy casual or casual business attire in terms of formality, if not style.

“Full dress” was the most formal kind of dress in a Regency Lady’s wardrobe. Full dress was worn for the most formal occasions — evening concerts and card parties, soirees, balls, and court occasions. “Evening dress” referred to outfits suitable only at evening events, but was a specific subset of “full dress”.

1817 walking costume 1817 walking costume                       (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Art of the Cravat for the Regency Gentleman by Kristen Koster

Following on from her Primer of Men’s Regency fashion, Kristen Koster now explains The Art of the Cravat for the Regency Gentleman.

One of the fun things about writing historicals is you have to learn all this really cool trivia. You need to be able to set the stage and do it in a believable manner. This includes how to properly dress your characters.

Contemporary heroes have life easy. They pretty much only have to know how to tie a half-Windsor knot and their heroines always step in to rescue the day if they’ve forgotten or get fumble-fingered. And then there’s the clip-on bow tie for formal wear.

Not so the Regency rake! His valet was under much more pressure to make his master presentable and indeed, even to shine above the rest and be perceived as unique. Instead of a couple of basic ways to tie that already nicely formed strip of silk that’s decorated in a rank suitable fashion, the Regency buck (or at least his man) was expected to be familiar with a far more numerous array of styles.


A Primer on Regency Era Men’s Fashion by Kristen Koster

A Primer on Regency Era Men’s Fashion by Kristen Koster at Impulsive Hearts.

Beau Brummell wears a Regency dress coat as daytime dress. The coat is able to close and the tails are knee length. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beau Brummell wears a Regency period dress coat as daytime dress. The coat is able to close and the tails are knee length. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Regency Men’s Fashion.

The terms Undress, Half Dress, and Full Dress were applied to men and women.

For men, “Undress” would include having his jacket and cravat removed, something that was not done in polite or mixed company if the gentleman could avoid it. Dressing gowns and robes also fit this bill for gentlemen lounging at home. “Half Dress” for men would be less elaborate knots in their neck cloths, much simpler and more casual styles of clothing. “Full Dress” and “Evening Dress” are the equivalent of today’s black tie affairs. Almack’s was a special case, where gentlemen of the ton were expected to wear breeches instead of trousers.

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