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More Girly Stuff

July 4, 2009

As I have been asked about the fashions of the period that I have am constantly been talking about, I thought I would write a brief blog about my favourite subject.

Commonly referred to as ‘Regency’, the period roughly covered dates from about 1795 to about 1820, even though George, Prince of Wales ruled as Regent only from 1811 to 1820.

Prior to the 1790s, eighteenth century costume had reached towering heights, with big hair, big hats, hoops, loops, frills and flounces to be seen in abundance. By the 1780s all this excess began to diminish and give way to a simpler, more pared-down elegance, which by the mid-90s was beginning to look to the Classical world for inspiration.3 dresses 1790 - 1800 Waistlines began to rise and the simple muslin round-gown or chemise dress began to be favoured by ladies of fashion.

So, put simply: 1800 – 1807French muslin dress 1800 was the pure Classical period, with Greek, Egyptian and Etruscan ornament in imitation of the marble statues that Lord Elgin had brought back from Greece, and Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt saw a new wave of Orientalism, which made turbans fashionable.

From 1808 – 1810 Spanish ornament became more fashionable as the hostilities between France and England, in the Peninsular, created an interest in all things Spanish.

1811 – 1813 and Gothic elements begin to creep back in.  1814 – 1817 and the Gothic is becoming more popular, and by 1821 the Classical form has finally given way to Gothic as hemlines widen, waists begin to lower and ornament takes over again.


I hope this is of some help in describing the changes that took place during the early years of the nineteenth century.

27 Comments leave one →
  1. Curiosity permalink
    July 4, 2009 7:28 pm

    You have excelled yourself on this one. Brilliant and so concisely written. It always amazes me to see the amount of fabric used. The workforce behind the production of it and the making of the outfits etc. must have been immense and I dread to think of the conditions they endured. I have seen a few programmes about the mills and workers. Bet they wish the mini skirt had come sooner!

  2. Sandi permalink
    July 4, 2009 7:35 pm

    There were no sewing machine at this time, either, so everything was stitched by hand by those poor little seamstresses tucked away out of sight of Mi\’lady\’s delicate sensibilities.I have used the Cunnington\’s excellent book English Women\’s Costume in the 19th Century as reference for this blog…maybe I should have added that underneath as a kind of bibliography.

  3. Curiosity permalink
    July 4, 2009 7:42 pm

    But look at some of the other cultures like the Chinese and India for example. The embroidery and detail on their richly patterned materials are incredible and so very intricate. And as for the lace makers! Makes us appreciate the industrial revolution, without it we would be sitting here darning socks and turning collars instead of idling away time on our pc\’s.

  4. Sandi permalink
    July 4, 2009 7:51 pm

    Ah, talking of collars…Robert\’s shirt is still awaiting it\’s collar. Without the collar, he cannot try it on, so that I can get the sleeves the correct length Ho hum…a woman\’s work is never done…!!I have to agree with you about the exquisite embroideries…so beautiful…and the poor women and children who worked long hours at them…!

  5. Curiosity permalink
    July 4, 2009 8:02 pm

    I daresay that they sat at their work thinking that the generation before had it even harder and were worse off and they were only to glad to be doing what they were, just as we do now.

  6. Sandi permalink
    July 4, 2009 8:12 pm

    You\’re probably right there…some things never change, do they!

  7. simon permalink
    July 4, 2009 9:20 pm

    Many a grind makes bread

  8. Sandi permalink
    July 4, 2009 9:54 pm

    I dare say it do, young fella-me-lad!! I dare say it do…!!

  9. Sandi permalink
    July 5, 2009 4:08 pm

    All these dresses are fairly \’plain\’ compared to some that have been seen. After 1815-16, the proliferation of flounces, frills, piping, ruffles, and other ornamentation increased, along with the sleeve and hem widths throughout the 1820s and 1830s…but that\’s of no interest to me…!!

  10. Sandi permalink
    July 6, 2009 2:51 pm

    Have just found this page that also describes the changes in dress during this period…

  11. Curiosity permalink
    July 6, 2009 4:38 pm

    Just had a look. Who\’d have thought there was so much shape shifting going on and all because of the type of corset. Liked the opening title of \’how not to make your dress look like a Hippy outfit\’

  12. Princess permalink
    July 6, 2009 7:45 pm

    Yo Sandi, love the pics, the dresses look gorgeous! Hope u have a lovely resta day! Luv PF XXX

  13. Sandi permalink
    July 6, 2009 8:50 pm

    Yep…the corset of the late 18 century was still rigid and pushed the bosom up and out the top, so the dresses, although they had become high waisted, were still flat-fronted. Then with the soft drapey muslins, stays were either left off altogether to reveal a more natural, feminine figure, or the short-stays were developed to push the bosom up, but were more like a long-line bra, and didn\’t intefere with the shape of the gown or wearer. As the years passed, and the fashions moved away from pure Classical towards Gothic, the stays started to become more rigid again, and with the lowering of the waisline, began to pull the waist in again. I love corsets…want one!

  14. Curiosity permalink
    July 6, 2009 10:08 pm

    Corsets are all very well but all that squeezing in has to squeeze out somewhere and then bulge out the edges.

  15. Sandi permalink
    July 7, 2009 12:09 am

    Spoil sport! (Pout!!)

  16. Sandi permalink
    July 7, 2009 9:58 am

    As long as you make sure it gets pushed out of the top, it can be added to the boob department…if only things were that simple…(sigh)…!!

  17. Eileen permalink
    July 7, 2009 12:24 pm

    Lol! I want one then! It might make me look like I have a cleavage!

  18. Bran permalink
    July 7, 2009 2:13 pm

    Amazing corsets at the faery fest, check out the photos of the girls making mountains out of molehills!

  19. Sandi permalink
    July 7, 2009 8:47 pm

    LOL! Bran, I ploughed my way through all of the amazing photos…yours and Andrew\’s. There were some amazing costumes, and lots of lovely corsets.Yes, I would love to have a cleavage, too…unfortunately, mine isn\’t in the boob department…(Big sigh!!)

  20. Curiosity permalink
    July 8, 2009 4:05 am

    Just had a look myself Bran, wow, what a surreal time.

  21. Cornish permalink
    July 14, 2009 8:43 am

    I\’ll take the brown one from the photo with the three thanks. Oh, waddya mean I can\’t have it!!!!!Aren\’t they gorgeous? I love dresses but can\’t seem to wear them any more. I don\’t know why but when I\’m getting dressed, it\’s always the jeans I put on. I suppose it\’s more practical when you\’re mucking out the house. I have two corsets now and the one set of stays what I made. I also have a pattern and a metre of the most amazing green silk to make another one. All I need is a round tuit. As for the cleavage ……………………. got plenty to share if anybody wants some.

  22. Sandi permalink
    July 14, 2009 9:19 am

    I think you\’d have to go to Japan to nick that dress…I think it\’s in the Kyoto Costume Institute collection.Woke up suddenly, this morning. Realisation dawned…less than 9 weeks to go to Grand Regency Promenade…DON\’T PANIC!!!!!!!!!!I decided that the bodice of my dress wasn\’t important…and that is the only bit that I\’ve managed to get done so far! Still got skirt to do, and spencer, as well as Robert\’s shirt, waistcoat, pantaloons and tailcoat!!!!!!!! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkkkkkkkk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Curiosity permalink
    July 14, 2009 9:33 am

    Better get cracking girl!!

  24. Cornish permalink
    July 14, 2009 9:34 am

    Crikey Sandi! It seems like an awful lot but I\’m sure you\’ll manage. Can Robert sew by any chance? Even if it\’s buttons, it would help.

  25. Sandi permalink
    July 14, 2009 1:09 pm

    The stress of the last couple of weeks has put everything on hold, but it is lifting, and other things seem to be falling nicely into place…and I can think straight again! Trying to come up with time-saving ideas and short-cuts, I decided to work on a new collar for Robert\’s shirt…then found the collar from the previous effort to copy. Then it popped into my head…use this collar…time and effort saved! (And it\’s a better fabric!)Time for another blog, methinks!

  26. Eileen permalink
    July 14, 2009 1:14 pm

    Glad to hear things are becoming easier to deal with Sandi and I know you find it hard to express at times – but we are a pretty supportive bunch when things get hard and as a group we can do all sorts of amazing things, and Chip has some good ideas on how to deal with the tough things we get thrown to us!(((HUGS)))xxx

  27. Curiosity permalink
    July 14, 2009 1:26 pm

    Same as Eileen says.Look forward to the smile on your face and how happy you\’ll feel when you see the photos of you and your creations at the big parade. I can\’t wait!

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