Follow Friday: The Regency Encyclopedia

The Regency Encyclopedia

Here’s a great Follow Firday recommendation for you. Regency history expert Sue Forgue writes to tell us of a wonderful announcement. Her website The Regency Encyclopedia is celebrating its 5th anniversary and has revealed several new enhancements to the Fashion Module. These include:

Fashion Glossary: This is the same database of definitions that powers the highlighted words in the fashion prints’ texts.  You can now search on these definitions without hunting through the fashion prints.

Research Fashion Palettes: Ever wonder what a color like morone looks like or what garments would be in that color? This database allows you to research the fashion palette colors by year (1800-1829) or by the color itself.  A couple of caveats to keep in mind: First, since the color swatches are html codes, your monitor will determine how they display, so at best, these can only be considered approximations. Second, each year’s fashion palette has been compiled from the original fashion print texts and other contemporary fashion articles. If a color shows up in one year and not another, it doesn’t mean the color wasn’t used, it only means that I don’t have any original source documentation for it.

Visit the Modiste Shop to Dress the Doll: Have some fun creating your own regency era outfit. This is the first of an eventual six dolls in the series. Pick the year and the applicable colors for each garment type will load. You can pick any combination of available colors and change them as much as you please before the doll is displayed. When you do, you’ll see the doll in a lovely setting with text incorporating your color choices written in the style of the fashion column in “La Belle Assemblée”.

In addition to these functions, the fashion prints database has been increased to almost 1,700 images thanks to the generous contributions of Vicky Hinshaw of Milwaukee and Jeanne Steen of Chicago.

Many thanks to Sue and her crew for the incredible information available to Austen fans and Regency history buffs. The site is password protected so please use this info for access. Enjoy!

User ID: JaneAusten
Password: brilliant1
(both are case sensitive)

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Dressing for the Netherfield Ball in Pride and Prejudice: Regency Fashion

Gentle Readers: in celebration of the ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ event over the next month, I have asked several of my fellow Jane Austen bloggers to share their knowledge and interest in Austen’s most popular novel. Today, please welcome guest blogger Vic from Jane Austen’s World who shares with us her extensive knowledge of Regency culture and history. Her first of four contributions during the event analyzes the costumes worn at the Netherfield Ball in three movie adaptations in comparison to the fashions of the day.

The Netherfield Ball. Ah! How much of Jane Austen’s plot for Pride and Prejudice put on show  in this chapter! Elizabeth Bennet – its star – enters the ball room hoping for a glimpse of a strangely absent Mr. Wickham, but is forced to dance two dances with bumblefooted Mr. Collins, whose presence she somehow can’t seem to shake. (From his actions the astute reader comes to understand that this irritating man will be proposing soon.)

Mr. Darcy then solicits Lizzie for a dance, and his aloofness and awkward silences during their set confirms in Lizzie’s mind that he suffers from a superiority complex. As the evening progresses her family’s behavior is so appalling (Mary hogs the pianoforte with her awful playing; Kitty and Lydia are boisterously flirtatious with the militia men; and Mrs. Bennet brazenly proclaims to all within earshot that Mr. Bingley and Jane are as good as engaged) that the only enjoyment Lizzie takes away from the event is in the knowledge that Mr. Bingley is as besotted with Jane as she is with him.

In anticipation of furthering her acquaintance with Mr. Wickham, Lizzie probably dressed with extreme care, making sure both her dress and hair looked perfect. In the image below, Jennifer Ehle’s “wig” is adorned with silk flower accessories, and a string of pearls, which was the fashion of the time. She wears a simple garnet cross at her throat (Jane Austen owned one made of topaz) and her dress shows off her figure to perfection.

Continue reading at Jane Austen’s World

Further reading

Upcoming event posts

Day 7  June 23     Group Read: Chapters 15-21
Day 8  June 25     Tourism in Jane Austen’s Era
Day 9  June 26     Group Read: Chapters 22 – 28

Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen, by Sarah Jane Downing – A Review

Revolution had changed the world and fashion had dressed it accordingly.” Sarah Jane Downing 

It is hard for me not to think of a Jane Austen movie adaptation and not remember how fashion influenced my enjoyment of the film. Some of my most vivid memories are of Elizabeth Bennet walking the verdant countryside in her russet colored spencer jacket in Pride and Prejudice 1995, Marianne Dashwood spraining her ankle and being carried to safety by Willoughby in her rain drenched white muslin frock in Sense and Sensibility 1995, or Mary Crawford ready to pounce like a black widow spider in her cobwebby evening dress in Mansfield Park 1999. Much of how we perceive Regency fashion today is from film costume designer’s interpretations of the fashions during Jane Austen’s time. I admit to admiring the fine cut of a gentleman’s tailored redingote or the elegant flow of a ladies formal evening dress as much as the next Janeite, but am totally clueless about why and how fashion changed so drastically since the heavy brocades, embroidered silks and powdered wigs of pre-revolutionary France. 

As an introduction to Georgian and Regency fashion, this slim 63 page volume answered many questions and gave me a better understanding of the evolution of fashion, its importance in society and how English style influenced the world. The chapters are neatly broken down into seven significant categories: The Age of Elegance, The Rise of English Fashion, A Fine Romance, Beau Brummell and the Great Renunciation, Rousseau and Fashion Au Natural, Reticule and Ridicule, and After the age of Elegance. Throughout are beautiful (but small) images from original sources such as the popular women’s fashion  magazines Ackermann’s Repository and La Belle Assemblée, portraits by the leading painters of the day Sir Henry Raeburn, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Sir Thomas Lawrence, and photographs of vintage clothing from the era. Interspersed throughout the text are references to Jane Austen, her family and characters in her novels to tie into a description of clothing or styles. A brief index at the back allows for quick reference by topic, person or place. 

As part of the popular Shire Library series, Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen is a little glistening jewel of information on British fashion during the Georgian and Regency periods. For the novice historian it will inform and whet your appetite. For the veteran it will be a great refresher. For each, you will appreciate Downing’s straight forward presentation of material and her handling of the sense of the ridiculous that fashion can take by including Gillray caricatures and comical anecdotes. From the perspective of a Jane Austen enthusiast, Downing does state some eyebrow raising facts that to my knowledge have yet to be proven. As much as the Austen descendants would like the “Rice portrait” to be of Jane Austen, even my rudimentary knowledge of Regency fashion styles and math calculate the portrait to be much later than the 1792-93 range evaluated by experts, and the James Stanier Clarke portrait of a lady with a fur muff could be Jane Austen, but we shall never know for sure. (Best to say possibly Jane Austen to be safe and raise your credibility.) A small quibble in an overall splendid little treasure trove sure to please the Austenista in all of us.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars 

Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen, by Sarah Jane Downing
Shire Publications, Oxford (2010)
Trade paperback (63) pages
ISBN: 978-0747807674

Additional Reviews

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By the Seaside with Sanditon: Guest Blog with Mandy N. on Regency-era Seaside Fashions

Please welcome Mandy N. today as a guest blogger during ‘By the Seaside with Sanditon’. Mandy is an avid collector of vintage fashion plates and has graciously offered to share some of her lovely images and chat about Regency-era fashion that I am quite certain Mr. Parker would think quite elegant enough for Sanditon.

During the Regency-era, seaside resorts were popular among fashionable society for both health cures and holidays. Jane Austen’s novels mention the resorts of Brighton, Scarborough, Cromer, Lyme and her fictional ‘Sandy ton’ or Sanditon. At resorts, fashionable visitors delighted in leisurely pleasures of promenading and seabathing amid sunshine and sea breezes. To partake of resort pleasures visitors required fashionable apparel to promenade, seabath, mingle and be seen by society. Seaside resorts also encouraged ladies to buy trinkets and shell ornaments at the circulating library similar to what Mr. Parker tries to establish at Sanditon. 

The basic seaside costume was a white muslin dress comfortable for a beach stroll and to ‘take a turn on the cliff’ (Ch.6), or dress up with accessories for a promenade. My impression is between the 1809 to 1815 seasons seaside fashion evolved. Accessories such as scarves, ribbons, shawls and reticules added blue, green or yellow colour to a white dress. Bonnets and parasols in matching colours added variety to seaside Regency costumes. ‘the most stylish girls in  the place.‘  (Ch. 11)

           

(Figure 1 left) Promenade Dress (Ackermann’s Repository 1809) shows a stylish frock for a stroll on the beach. A white muslin dress. Bonnet of plaited straw with ostrich feather, tied with ribbon. A Marine Scarf of purple silk and matching Chinese parasol of purple silk. Shoes and gloves of yellow kid. No doubt the perfect outfit to enjoy ‘the finest, purest seabreeze on the coast’ (Ch. 1) 

(Figure 2 right) Promenade or Sea Beach Costume (Ackerman’s Repository 1810). Take a turn around the cliff in natural surroundings near the resort in white muslin under an apple-green crape tunic coat with straw bonnet tied with ribbon. Chinese green silk parasol and green kid slippers. A versatile outfit to wear round the resort. 

(Figure 3) A sight to please Mr. Parker is the sight of a most fashionable young woman who knew to sit upon the seashore to enjoy sunshine and a breeze. Promenade Dress (Ackermann’s Repository 1815). A stripey pelisse with a full neck ruff and silk shawl over the shoulders. Fabric-covered bonnet with flowers. Her strapped slippers allow easier walking on a sandy shore. This Promenade Dress was fashionable in cool months. Regency society enjoyed visiting seaside resorts all year round. (Thanks Heather, for your elegant 1815 Promenade Dress)

 

(Figure 4)  Morning Dress (Ackermann’s Repository 1814). A lady sits on the beach looking out to sea.  Her robe is evening-primrose-coloured sarsanet with blonde lace. French hat of ribbons and flowers. A darker dress may not show dust or sand so much as a white dress. Fashion terms like evening primrose may’ve appealed to stylish ladies. This Morning Walking Dress has the addition of a telescope. Telescope gazing was a popular leisure with men and women at sea resorts. Like the Miss Beauforts, perhaps she- ‘looks at nothing through a telescope.‘ (Ch. 11)

         

(Figure 5 left) Walking Dress (Ackermann’s Repository 1811).  Muslin robe with a fuller sleeve and a square neckerchief in folds. Amber sarsenet coat. A mountain hat with flower, oranmented with white crape (her hair folds beneath the white crape). Half-boots of buff kid and a crimson reticule. This outfit for a seaside stroll appears more sophisticated than dresses of 1809-1810 seasons. Personally, I love the background and beach activity in this costume plate! 

(Figure 6 right) Walking Dress (Ackermann’s Repository 1815). Exemplifies a costume worn by the seashore at time of Sanditon. A high muslin dress of short waking length trimmed with treble flounces and full ruff of French style. Long sleeve with wristband over the hand. French bonnet of white satin edged with blue ribbon and a plume of feathers. Mantle of silk embroidered with silks. Silk stockings, gloves and slippers of blue kid. Blue shoes? Civilization indeed!  ‘Who would have expected such a sight at a shoemaker’s in old Sanditon!’ (Ch. 4)  But did she buy her large, large bonnet from Jebbs? 

         

(Figure 7 left) Promenade Half Full Dress (La Belle Assemblee 1810). An ensemble fit for an heiress to stroll upon the Terrace. A muslin dress with long sleeves and low neck. French scarf of yellow silk. Note the lace veil on the yellow silk bonnet to protect a lady’s complexion, or, if she is ill protection from unwanted public gaze upon the Terrace. Parasol of light yellow & white fringe. Gloves and shoes of yellow kid.  Likely, such fashion was seen at large, fashionable resorts. ‘the Terrace was the attraction to all; everybody who walked, must begin with the Terrace.’ (Ch. 7) 

(Figure 8 right) Promenade Costume (Ackermann’s Repository 1812). A muslin robe with long sleeves, simple collar and brooch. Amber sash, rosary and cross necklace. Gloves and shoes of yellow kid. Her hat is trimmed with white ribbons. I wonder if she reads a book of poetry? ‘Upon the Terrace with the Parkers and Denhams, sat Clara Brereton.’ She is known to wear white ribbons.

(Figure 9) ‘Two females in elegant white.’ (Ch. 4) Promenade or Sea Beach Costumes (Ackermann’s Repository 1810). First figure: White muslin gown, a tunic of pink sarsanet with cording up front. Straw hat tied with white ribbon. A founding lace cap with flowers. Muslin cloak and head-dress of square veil of French lace. Gloves and pink slippers. Second figure: A white muslin robe and cloak of fine muslin. Headdress with a square veil of lace accented with a brooch. Gloves and amber slippers. Lace veils probably protected a lady’s face from sun and wind on the beach. The outfits appear loose and comfortable for around the resort wear. ‘The sea air and sea bathing together were nearly infallible’ (Ch. 2)

(Figure 10) Sea Bathing Costume (La Belle Assemblee 1815). A pelisse of green-white silk with fringes. Leghorn hat with feathers. Green and white striped half boots. At seaside resorts, ladies could parade in style enjoying the purest seabreeze by the dancing sea. Yet, promenading was not the only leisure. Sea resorts were famed by society for the novelty of sea cures and seabathing. ‘Here began the descent to the beach, and to the bathing machines-and this was therefore the favourite spot for beauty and fashion.’ (Ch. 4) This fashion plate features a lady strolling in seabathing costume to the beach in to the seabathing machines to change and enter the water in privacy. Seabathing machines can be seen on the lower right side of the fashion plate. The advantage of this costume was a lady could quickly dress or undress. Does she carry a muslin slip in her bag? The most fastidious belle could not find a more becoming Bathing Costume. I wonder if this lady bathes for leisure or sea cure? In the novel, active hypochondriac Diana Parker appears a regular seabather, so presumably owns a Bathing Costume. She intends ‘to enourage Miss Lambe in taking her first dip…and go in the machine with her if he wishes it.‘ (Ch. 12)  

In the Regency-era seabathing was the motive to improve one’s health, but socializing and fashion appear as important as any sea cure. As we see in these fashion plates from the Ladies Journals of the era, it is apparent that they catered to the novelty of fashion by the sea. To realistically display Walking Dresses or a Sea Bathing Costumes, beach or cliff scenes were popular as background on fashion plates. To a fashionable lady, the picture may convey not only the infallible delights of finery but the delight of visiting a resort for ‘the sea, dancing and sparkling in sunshine and freshness.’ (Ch. 4)

For people not yet drowned by seaside images, you can check the wallpaper gallery at Solitary Elegance. The August wallpaper features two Regency seaside mother & child plates and a quote from Sanditon for your enjoyment.

Many thanks to Mandy N. for all her work scanning images and researching the text. Bravo!

Further reading

Upcoming event posts

Day 6 – March 20 Group Read Chapters 9-12
Day 6 – March 20 Review: Sanditon (Hesperus)
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions
Day 8 – March 22 Event Wrap-up

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: Guest Blogger Kali Pappas Chats about Movie Fashions

Please welcome web mistress of The Emma Adaptations Pages, Graphic and Web Designer of Strangegirl Designs, and Regency fashion and style authority Kali Pappas today, as she chats about the “frivolus distinctions” of fashion in the two movie adaptations of Northanger Abbey. Enjoy!

“Dress is at all times a frivolous distinction, and excessive solicitude about it often destroys its own aim. Catherine knew all this very well; her great aunt had read her a lecture on the subject only the Christmas before; and yet she lay awake ten minutes on Wednesday night debating between her spotted and her tamboured muslin, and nothing but the shortness of the time prevented her buying a new one for the evening.” Chapter 10

***

Ever since “Her love of dirt gave way to an inclination for finery,” Catherine Morland has yearned to experience society – balls, gowns, boys, and all the excitement and adventure that every naive young woman on the cusp of adulthood eagerly anticipates. Since Miss Morland’s first grand, grown-up adventure takes place in Bath – the famous health spa and mythic center of Georgian society and fashion – it’s only natural that dress, as frivolous a distinction as it may be, should play a distinguished part in the drama that unfolds before our heroine.

 NA 1986: Parties galore are evident upon arrival in Bath!

With clotheshorse Mrs. Allen as her chaperone and first advisor on things sartorial, Catherine costumes herself for a dual role – that of a garden-variety romantic heroine on the loose in a fancy town, in addition to that of a wannabe gothic heroine whose imagination tends toward the horrid. Both the 1986 and 2007 adaptations of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey use fashion to play up the romance and hyperbole presented in this gothic parody, though sometimes in starkly different ways. While the 2007 adaptation is relatively subtle in its costuming, the 1986 adaptation veers a bit more toward the cartoonish at times.

NA 1986: Catherine and her brother dash through a rather gothic-appropriate graveyard.

In the novel, clothing and one’s relationship with it function as more than mere “frivolous distinctions,” despite the authoress’ narrations to the contrary. It is, after all, it’s Henry Tilney’s knowledge of muslin which proves his “genius” to Mrs. Allen. “Men commonly take so little notice of those things,” she tells him. “I can never get Mr. Allen to know one of my gowns from another.” While Mrs. Allen’s comfort in Henry’s knowledge is superficial, his interest in matters of feminine importance shows us as readers that he’s a sensitive guy who makes an honest effort to understand and appreciate girls.

NA 2007: “I gave but five shillings a yard for it, and a true Indian muslin!” 

In the television adaptations of the story, one could argue that fashion is an even more important distinction, given the visual dimension of the medium. Aside from the usual quick inferences it allows a viewer to make – regarding class and age, for example – it also subtly informs us as to the personality and even the motives of the wearer.

In both adaptations, Catherine first appears as a clean, blank, and thoroughly transparent being. She is the antithesis of artifice, wearing sheer, simple muslin gowns in virginal white. Her hair is uncomplicated, even a bit unkempt. In the 1986 adaptation, we find her reading in a tree; in dirty stocking feet, no less, which indicates that while her “inclination for finery” may be considerable, her tolerance of dirt has not yet subsided. She is not yet a fully-civilized “adult.’

NA 1986: Early Catherine reading in a tree

NA 2007: Catherine reading novels

In the 1986 adaptation, Catherine begins her transformation upon embarkation for Bath, suited up in simple yet elegant new travelling togs which appear to consist of a smart new bonnet, a new gown, and a satiny-blue pelisse over it.

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