Thursday, August 9, 2012

Regency Clothing and the Trials and Tribulations Thereof...

Now I have read many, many Regencies and historical novels in my time, and one of the subjects I have always found fascinating were the descriptions of the clothing characters are wearing. There are many errors made when it comes to this subject, but I think that my reading history has given me quite a lot of basic knowledge to work with.
By the same token, however, I really would like to stick to historical accuracy as much as possible, so I have been trolling the internet for days (since I started this project, really) for ideas, images, and descriptions of what people during this period wore. Thank heavens the world is infatuated with Jane Austen and the Regency in general, as there is a plethora of material out there.
I even started up a Pinterest account to keep a record of inspirational images. Follow me there by using the link button over on your right, by the way.
There's one subject in particular I am working on at the moment that I would like to touch on, and that is the matter of debutantes being Presented at Court. There were all kinds of rules for dress, conduct, and the expected ceremony of the presentation itself, and I am quite mired in the details at the moment, since Salome is about to be presented to the Prince Regent. I am fudging the history here a bit, and will likely be called out on it by someone, but oh well, she needs to be Presented, and it's going to happen in 1811, whether there were Drawing Rooms or not.
There were no Presentations from the time of the King's birthday in 1810 until April of 1812, because the King was quite mad, literally nuts, and the Regent had enough stuff to deal with than watching a bunch of women come and bow before him. The Queen couldn't be bothered either, but that is neither here nor there. If anyone would like to question me on the subject, I'll tell them that yes, I do have my facts straight, I am just choosing to ignore them, so HA! K, nuff ranting.
So, contrary to fashion at the time, Court Dress still required hoops under skirts, a towering headdress of feathers, probably pearls, although there was concession in what colors debutantes could wear. Most chose light, pastel colors, brighter colors being reserved for older, married ladies. Salome will be wearing white, the traditional color you would expect from a debutante.

Contrary to her fellow maidens however, Salome has a loathing for all things super frilly, so there will be no giant flounces of ruffles and lace, she's keeping it simple with a silk and sheer cotton (ecru) confection embroidered and dotted with tiny pearls. Her hair is upswept, of course, with pearls entwined all throughout, and her feathers are ostrich (the usual), and she's breaking out of the box here, but she's going with albino peacock feathers just to be obtuse and different. I am imagining a quite elegant figure here. Something like what you see to the left. That lovely lady is Alexandra Feodorovna, otherwise known as the last Tsarina of Russia. Her gown is more Victorian in design, but I think you get the feel for what I am describing when it comes to Salome's dress. Below is another example of what appropriate Court Dress was like for the time.

As far as her hair, I am picturing something like this, only with entwined pearls, and let's not forget the feathers! Something like this one, only way bigger and over the top!

Let's not forget our hero, now, he has to have special clothes to come calling on royalty of course, so here's a little something Donovan would find himself trussed up in, only I picture him wearing black not red, everything else is pretty spot on:

So that pretty much sums up where I'm at for the moment, hope you've enjoyed the imagery!

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