Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Regency Romance era Fashion as Jane Austen knew it

Early Nineteenth Century Fashion and Accessories For Ladies. Clothing Worn By Jane Austen And Her Contemporaries.

During the later part of the 18th century, a great deal of tinsel drawn work was done on fine muslin, and became beautifully treated in delicate design on the hem and down the front of many of the high-waisted dresses as in . Later on towards the twenties we see a great deal of effective coarse work in heavy gold tinsel, and at the same time to the forties a number of dresses were ably enriched with fine gold thread.

The white embroidery in the earlier trimmings of this period, was remarkable for its wealth of fancy; the chief beauty of these dresses was the delightful treatment of gathered effects, and with the reign of George IV we note the gradual return of the longer pointed bodice, with the growth of very full sleeves, also the increase in the size and fuller set-out of the skirts over the stiff flounced drill petticoats. The V-shaped Bertha setting to neck and shoulders began to establish itself, and became a great feature through the thirties and forties; the first signs of it appear about 1814. Varieties of materials were used to great advantage in designing, and drawn tulle trimmings were happily introduced to soften hard shapes and colours. The shoulder fullness also began to be neatly drawn in and held by straps, which gave a charming character to many bodices.

From 1816 choice work in piped shapes, often of flower forms decorated with pearls or beads, was set on fine net. The attraction to the thirties was the happy effects gained by the bow and flower looping on the flounces, and these ripened in fancy and variety through the forties. Braiding was adopted in the thirties with a rather charming treatment of tassels down the front of the dress; the polonaises of this time were[239] also effective and simple, caught here and there with posies of flowers, and we find this fashion again revived in the sixties.

With the reign of George IV we notice an increasing choice of strong coloured effects, which culminated in the mid-Victorian era in raw colour and violent shot silks, velvets, and heavy fringes, but one may see that many of these dresses of bright pure tone looked exceedingly refined and were quite stately. A remarkable dress of very strong bright blue; its only enrichment being a curved line of folded silk. All these dresses from 1800 were delightfully embellished with embroidered fichus, light scarves of frail gauze, crêpe, or Norwich silk, and in the Victorian times capes and V-shaped shawls; fascinating lace ruffles and tuck-in fronts to the bodice necks, of frills and bands of embroidery, broke the severity or bareness of many dresses. An endless variety of fascinating caps and lace head-lappets was pinned or caught into the hair at the wearer's fancy; besides the bows, flowers, and jewels (especially pearls) which have always played an important part in the coiffure from early times, the chatelaines and bags, fobs, fans, and lace or silk handkerchiefs all give the artist a note of extra colour when desired. The cruel period of taste really came with the seventies, though one can trace many quaint and interesting cuts in the bodices and skirts of this time; but the "grand dress" of complicated drapings, heavily fringed or braided, was a "set piece" which, let us hope, will never appear again.

The long stocking-purse which began to appear in the late 17th century was up to 1820 sometimes carried tucked through the belt; it was set with a pair of metal rings and tassels of steel or gilt beads. Small and large circular and bag-shaped purses were also in use; all these were made in coloured silk threads enriched with steel, gilt, or coloured beads, the latter shapes being set in chased metal mounts, the circular ones generally having a fringe and the bag shape a small tassel or heavy drop. These shapes can also be seen in coloured leathers with a leather tassel, besides the plain money-bag with a draw-string.

The hair up to 1808 was gathered into a knot of curls at the back of the head, rather high up, with a small curl at the sides in front of the ear. Later the knot was set more on the top, and the side curls were made more of a feature, several being arranged at the sides. Numerous varieties of large and small brimmed hats, bonnets, and turbans are seen, and several masculine top-hats and cockade hats may be noted late in this reign. The usual feather decorations and large ribbons or flowers were in use, and a handkerchief was sometimes bound over the top of the straw hat and tied under the chin.

The classic high-waisted dress continued till 1808, and was often beautifully decorated with white embroidery and gold or tinsel. There were several interesting drapings, one being a cord hanging from the back of the shoulder to loop up the train of the dress. The simple tunic shapes are better described by the illustrations: more originality was essayed in design after the last-mentioned date. A high Vandyked lace collar and fan setting to the shoulders appeared, and many interesting dresses of a plain cut, mostly in velvet and silks, were worn about 1810-12. A gathered sleeve drawn tight at intervals was often seen up to 1816, when embroidered ruffles and frills decorated most of the necks and skirts, and a braided type of character, rather military in effect with beautifully piped edgings, came in from about 1817. Spencer bodices were an additional interest at this period, and a short puff sleeve was generally banded or caught with bows; these being often worn over a fairly loose long sleeve gathered by a wristband. Dresses were worn shorter from about 1810. Charming lace and embroidered fichus crossed the shoulders, and long scarf-capes were thrown round the neck and were often tied round behind, as in the 18th century; long capes with points and tassels in front fell to the knees, and a simple pelisse with cape became a pleasing feature. Bags were always carried, of which there is a variety of shapes in the plates; long gloves or mittens were generally worn. Parasols of a flat shape, or others with round or pagoda shaped tops are seen, many being edged with a deep fringe. Long purses were often tucked through the waistband.

The pointed shoe, tied sandal fashion up the leg, and with no heel, remained through this reign, but a round-toed low shoe, tied on in the same manner, began to supersede it about 1810.


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