Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Regency Lady's Wardrobe by Regency Author Ella Quinn



Today I’m hosting my friend and fellow author Ella Quinn. She’s going to be discussing the basics of a Regency ear lady’s wardrobe. Take it away Ella!

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I’m so thrilled to be on your blog, Lauren.
While we were kicking around ideas, Lauren thought I should post on what a well-bred Regency lady would wear. 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.
Here is a Regency Evening Gown: 



What young unmarried ladies wore differed in color and material from what older or married ladies could wear.
But let’s let start with the undergarments. The first thing a most women would don is a chemise, also called a shift. Think of a modern petticoat, but 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 corsets varied and could tie in the front or back, and be long or short.
Over the stays a lady wore up to five petticoats to add fullness to the gown. The petticoats were also of thin muslin. 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.
Here is an example of Regency Stays: 


Over all that, she’d wear her 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. 
Here is an example of a Regency day gown:

To accessorize, there were huge shawls, kid gloves, reticules, in the winter large muffs, and, of course, bonnets. A lady did not leave the house without wearing gloves, and her bonnet. Skirt pockets went out of fashion because of the line of the Regency gown, and reticules were used as a purse.  
I’ll finish with shoes. 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. 
Here's a pair of Jean-half boots, leather half-boots and slippers:



One thing to remember is that though there were second hand stores, ladies in the ton would have all their clothes made. Shoes were also custom made. Fabric was very expensive, so clothes were re-cut and styled. New trimmings added. Sometimes gowns were died. 


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Thank you so much for stopping by League of Rogues and making such a great fashion presentation Ella! 

Meet Author Ella Quinn

 


Ella’s studies and other jobs have always been on the serious side. Reading historical romances, especially Regencies, were her escape.

     After stint in the Army, where she was the first woman to be assigned to a Green Beret unit, and serving in Guam and Germany, she decided to return to university where she earned a B.A. from North Carolina State University and M.S. in International Relation and a J.D. from Campbell University, NC. which led to another term in the Army as a JAG officer. 

     When they were dating, Ella’s husband convinced her he was really a Viking warrior, that was thirty years ago. They have a son and granddaughter, Great Dane and a Chartreux. After living in the South Pacific, Central America, North Africa and in Europe, she and her husband decided to make St. Thomas, VI home.

     Ella is a member of the Romance Writers of American, The Beau Monde and Hearts Across History. She’s extensively researched the Regency era, immersing her stories with the flavor and feel of the era so that readers lose themselves in the time period. She also belongs to the Historical Romance Critique Group.

In addition to writing and reading, Ella likes water sports, traveling and discovering new foods.

  
Want to have a taste of Ella's Sexy Traditional Regencies? Check out The Temptation of Lady Serena below!


 Official Blurb:


Ella Quinn’s bachelors in The Marriage Game series are charming and cunning when it comes to the ways of love—until the right woman captures their unsuspecting hearts…

Custom-made gowns…nights at the theater…and a host of eligible bachelors. Accustomed to living a quiet life in the Scottish Borderlands, Lady Serena Weir has never had any of these luxuries. But when Serena’s brother demands she finally have a Season in London, she’s thrust into a glamorous world she’s only dreamed of…

Robert, Viscount Beaumont remembers all too well what it feels like to be in love. That is why he must keep his distance from Serena. He’s only felt his pulse stir the way it does now when he made the mistake of loving the wrong woman once before. Yet the more he strives to resist his feelings, the nearer he is to falling under Serena’s seductive spell…

Excerpt:

 
          Serena entered Madame Lisette’s shop on Bruton Street with Phoebe and their two aunts.
          Madame, a small lady, her dark hair streaked with silver, greeted them “Ah, the new mademoiselle. Bien.”
          “My dear Lisette,” Aunt Ester said. “Lady Serena Weir, my niece, desperately needs your help. She requires everything!”
          “Bon.” Madame walked around Serena. “I have made some designs that are comme il faut. Just the thing.”
          Aunt Ester tapped her chin. “She’ll need several walking, carriage, day, evening, and two or three ball gowns within the week. That should be enough to start.”
Serena’s eyes rounded at the list her aunt rattled off. She’d never even heard of some of them. How could she hope to wear as many as her aunt was ordering? She’d have to change several times a day to make use of them all.
          Madame measured her. “I have a few things ready from the information sent me, my lady.” Madame clapped her hands and what seemed like a parade of garments was carried out for their inspection.      “They are très élégante for Lady Serena.” Madame called to an assistant then left them.
          Looking at the number of gowns the modiste expected Serena to have fitted, she whispered, “Phoebe. Is shopping always like this?”
        “Only at first. Madame will soon learn your taste and then it’s not so chaotic. Give it some time. Once we have some carriage and walking gowns, we’ll look for hats, and shoes. Oh, and we can’t forget fans, reticules, gloves, and muffs.”
        Serena plopped into a chair. “I’m exhausted just thinking about it. This is as busy as harvest time. How do you keep up?”


32 comments:

  1. What a wonderful article! Ella, you explained things soooo well!!! Love this!!

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    1. Thank you so much, Marie. I forgot to add the garters.

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  2. Love this post! And Ella, Robert would be most put out about forgetting the garters! Men do so love those garters!!

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    1. I'm quite sure you're right, Nancy. At the time they had metal clasps on garters, my heroines tend to wear the ones that tie because my heroes like them better.

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  3. What a good post, Ella. The pictures are wonderful. Cand you imagine wearing those stays?

    I tweeted and shared.

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    1. Thanks Barb. Actually, I understand that they are pretty comfortable.

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  4. Both the gowns pictured are beautiful, and I'd love to have the first pair of half-boots myself! :-)

    Great excerpt, too.

    Sandra

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  5. I would put on the stockings either just before or just after the shift and depending on whether or not the lady wore drawers, so as not to have to lean over wearing the stays nor bunch up the petticoats.
    I ca'nt see having a servant put stockings on my feet. It sounds so infantile. Serena is right, shopping in that way must have been exhausting, especially as they didn't yet have department stores, though Fortnum Mason existed

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    1. Only very fast ladies wore drawers. Young ladies would not have been allowed to wear them at all. Most people have the wrong idea of what they looked like. When we think of drawers they cover much of the inner leg area. If you think of cowboy chaps, that is pretty much how they looked, but in muslin with a string looped though both halves to hold them up. They also, apparently, had a tendency to slip down and off.

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  6. Great post, Ella! And the pictures are fabulous!! This is going in my Ladies Regency Clothing research notebook.

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  7. Pictures should be sent to book cover artists.

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  8. I’ve always loved it when authors take extra time to describe the beautiful clothes that were worn by members of the “ton” in Regency novels. It gives me an extra bit to dream about and go - ahhhhh! Of course, putting on all of those layers of clothes and changing them several times a day must have been exhausting.

    Thanks for sharing this great information today. Loved it!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Connie! Thus the reason for a lady's maid. Not only did she assist in dressing and undressing, she took care of all the clothing.

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  9. Fascinating, Ella! I don't write Regency but love reading about that time period. Your description of a lady's clothing is very interesting, and I agree, changing so many times a day must have been exhausting. Do you know if ladies also changed their undergarments that often?

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    1. Thank you, Lyn. It would probably depend on what they'd been doing. Remember there was no deodorant, so if they'd gotten sweaty, they'd probably change their shift. It's worth mentioning that lye soaps were used to clean underclothes, so really fancy ones made of silk were not normally used as they wouldn't survive more than a couple of washings.

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  10. Wow, what an amazing and informative post--I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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  11. Awesome post, Ella!! Your research is incredible! I've always been intrigued by historical research-thank you for sharing the pics!

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    1. Jennifer, thanks. I enjoy research and looking at pictures!!

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  12. I love the pictures! And I know who I can pester with a question! So excited about your upcoming releases. I've been sharing with some of my friends who are historical romance fans.

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    1. Thank you, Collette!! And thanks for sharing about my books. I can't wait for them to start releasing.

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  13. Great pics! And super interesting stuff!

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  14. Great pictures. I couldn't imagine changing in and out of so many layers so many times a day.

    Congrats on your book. I can't wait to read the whole series.

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  15. Thank you so much, Stacey. That means a lot.

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  16. Hi Ella,
    Beautiful pictures and interesting information. I love Regencies because they usually have clever reparte' between the hero and heroine. They must be fun to write. Congratualations on your new book!
    Happy Writing!
    Dawn Ireland

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  17. Amazing history of ladies dress codes. I still get them confused although I should know them by heart by now.

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  18. Great post, Ella. It must have been very time consuming changing up to six times a day. None wonder they needed maids to help them.

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  19. I can't imagine the amount of time taken to dress everyday not to mention the size of their wardrobes. Imagine the size of one's luggage when travelling..

    Congrats on your latest book.

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