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Posts Tagged ‘Regency Costume’

Embroidered panels on hem pinned in place.

I’ve gotten the hem of the skirt finished. To decorate the bottom I have some gorgeous silk panels embroidered in silk. I carefully cut around the outside edge of the embroidery. To attach them I will precisely hand sew the outside. I did the same with the finished bodice, and it looks stunning.

Because I am attaching these delicate silk embroidered panels to the hem, I will add some hand made silk trim to the bottom to take the wear. I haven’t decided yet whether to make the trim in ivory silk or make it of a coordinating colored silk that will match the sash and the turban. I think I will end up doing the latter, as it will probably save me a lot of heartache when the hem is inevitably soiled.

I bunched up the top of the skirt to get the bodice in the picture as well.

I have a confession: I am sick of ivory silk. This is the first time I have tired of a material I was working with. It looks beautiful and feels beautiful, and I recognize it will make a fantastic dress. But It has not the impact and drama of a deep rich color or outstanding pattern. Also, I every time I try the dress on I realize that it is not flattering either. But, I am confident that the results will be gorgeous and very Regency.

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Beau Brummell, regency fashion leader in his ivory pants. Millitary officers were, after all, fashionable attractions in ballrooms and in marriage.

I’ve cut out the pieces of my Jane Austen-era ivory wool pants. From what I understand, light colored pants were preferred for evening and formal wear. Ivory was also the standard color for millitary pants as well. White pants pair well with the image of the status conscious British redcoat with their formality and strict discipline. But in reality, their physical circumstances were dirty and trying enough to kill those with weak constitutions way before musket shots were fired. So, how do ivory pants fit into both the backdrops of the bloody battlefield and the boisterous ballroom?

Wellington and his men in their fancy pants. White pants in the heat of battle on horseback?!

Naturally, ivory and white pants are the hardest to maintain, and a clear pair of light colored pants would demonstrate that one had the lifestyle, habits, morals and capabilities to keep them clean. When one imagines all of the British army officers of the late 18th and early 19th century struggling to keep their clothes clean in almost all of corners of the earth, one is astonished that the British Empire was able to form at all. Discipline must be something like a muscle – the more one uses it whether in laundering, musket-loading, or cutting back gastronomically – the more it is able to give back. To a British army officer, keeping one’s pants clean may have been seen as a reflection of the care he was capable of putting into detail-oriented warfare.

I remember reading in one of my Jane Austen-context books that military officers were incredibly fashionable to have as guests and admirers. The army was more fashionable than the navy, and the higher rank the officer basically the more his appeal would be in a ballroom or dinner party. So, the appeal of the white/ivory pants in evening and high fashion wear was a reflection on how British manhood was defined. High maintenance but relatively durable pants were a commentary on the discipline, physical skill, and service to society a man could provide all while keeping his clothes nice and clean.

Anyhow, thinking about this won’t get my pants done. Off to work.

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I am making a Regency suit for my significant other. We will be attending the Jane Austen weekend here in Toronto, and I am dizzy with excitement when I think of the costume possibilities. The components of this ensemble will be as follows:

1810-ish men's wear

  • Tailed Coat: will be one of wool broadcloth in a very, very dark grey.
  • Undershirt: White linen
  • Waistcoat: will be made of a pale yellow striped silk.
  • Breeches: will be made out of ivory wool.

I will be making the suit for a civilian gentleman.

I’m drafting my own pattern for my ballgown. At first, I was thinking of taffeta for myself, as there are few fabrics that scream “ballgown” more than taffeta. I am glad I thought twice about the silk taffeta before I purchased the 5 necessary yards at an exorbitant price. I’m planning on doing plenty of dancing at Fort York, and I know from experience that although one can dance in formal, stiff fabric, dancing in a lightweight silk/cotton blend would probably be way more pleasant.

Granted, I am a married woman. It would hardly be becoming if I were to frolic and bounce around a la Lydia Bennett. Taffeta would be a good choice for the evening wear of a woman with her husband in attendance. But, I think I will endeavor to add dignity to my ballgown without compromising the dance-ability of the gown. To this effect, I have in mind a silk-cotton base gown with a sheer silk ivory overlay possibly trimmed with some antique embroidered lace I have stashed away. I could make the base gown in either ivory or a color such as pale blue, lilac, or coral.

When I read the Austen letters way back in the day, I remember lilac was mentioned frequently as a fashionable color, particularly in 1805-1806. And to make a reference to Austen’s writing, in Northanger Abbey Isabella Thorpe once told Catherine that she wore a great deal of purple, though she felt she looked awful in it. I feel it would be a safe assumption to say that purple may have been fashionable in the mid decade to recognize all that empire building on the continent. There are few things that scream Napolean more than his golden bees on a rich purple satin background.

I digress towards the subject of purple once again! Honestly, I only brought the color up to reflect on the irony that lilac was indeed a very fashionable color during the Austen time though it is very seldom used in Jane Austen films. Those who rely on film to give them a sense of Jane Austen fashion may miss all the purple. Film makers prefer rather to use muted corals, roses, and sometimes pale blues, I believe to perhaps emphasize the myopic, interpersonal human relations that make the Jane Austen style. Purple, which traditionally suggests mystery, that which is not understood, as well as worldly and Imperial ambitions, would make trite the complaints of the heiress Emma or Elizabeth Bennett’s unyielding quest for the ideal husband. With that in mind, I will not wear lilac at Fort York in Toronto. And besides, it looks awful with my complexion, too.

Note: Ski season and a dreadful case of food poisoning severely interfered with the previous plaid bustle plan. Fabric for said project has been stored away, as I now have a deadline for something new.

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