Regency Fashions for May
Regency Fashions were forever changing and a glimpse at a few of the Ladies' Magazines of the time shows just how difficult it would be to remain fashionable from one year to the next. The following prints span 11 years during the Regency and are from the collection of author Michele Ann Young.
These two prints are from Cabinet of Fashion
. The first is from May, 1806 and the descriptions are as follows:
Curricle of Lace over a Round Dress of White Sarsnet. Spencer of Green Sarsnet. Straw Bonnet. Buff Gloves and Shoes. Beaver Hat. Indian Long Shawl. Cambric Walking Dress, with a Lace Ruff.
Head fashionably dressed, with a Band of Embroidered Lace. Dress of White Sarsnet, trimmed with Point. Robe of Pink Crape. White Shoes and Gloves.
This one is May 1808, not very different I think.
Dress of fine muslin, elegantly worked down the front and round the bottom, and trimmed with pea-green ribbon.-Hair fashionably dressed.-White shoes and buff gloves.
Short dress of muslin, with lace trimming.-Shawl of lilac silk, and bonnet of the same colour, with a fancy flower in front. Both these gowns are from the May issue of the Cabinet of Fashion
The next two are from La Belle Assemblee
, May, 1810. "This magazine contained a wealth of information on a wide range of women's concerns. It was a true women's magazine with celebrity anecdotes, instructions of manners, cosmetic advice, and beauty aids. Dress and fashion were covered in delightfully colored fashion plates--the best of which were from 1809 to 1820. Fashion plates were presented with lengthy, written descriptions, and modish gentlewomen pounced on the latest monthly issue. . . . The magazine was filled with advertisements that touted the wonders of various rouges, depilatories, powders, and corsets"*
Evening Shawl Dress
Ah, now here we have "a rich Paris-brown French silk shawl robe, with short full sleeves, made to sit very much off the shoulders; worn over a white satin body with long sleeves. Persian scarf of green silk; white satin shoes; and white kid gloves." And just look how slender both of these young ladies are. Don't they remind you of models today?
Evening Full Dress
A white satin, or fine India muslin, round dress, made short, and scalloped round the bottom, which is finished with a gold twist, made to sit very high over the neck; ornamented with a full ruck of white crape, or lace; long sleeves laced with gold twist, and small gold drop buttons, the sleeves scalloped to correspond with the bottom of the dress, and ornamented with gold cord; a gold net, or Persian silk sash, encircles the waist. White kid gloves; white satin shoes, with gold rosettes; tippet of white swansdown.
This grouping with the gentleman is from Le Beau Monde
, May, 1817, and is one of those rarities that we love to find. He is clearly dressed for evening, with the knee-breeches and flat black pumps. And look at the shine on those stockings he is wearing. Now they just have to be silk, wouldn't you think?
Le Beau Monde
was published monthly and offered "two hand-colored fashion plates in each issue. It was filled with articles about theater, the arts, literature, and music. It was a close rival of La Belle Assemblee
in content"+ and was even published by the same company until 1809.
The last evening gown (1816) is just darling, so delicate, and the pretty embroidery really appeals to me. This print was published in The Lady's Magazine
(May, 1816, the same issue which held such vivid descriptions of Princess Charlotte's Wedding) The Lady's Magazine
, which was in print from 1770-1820 is touted as "the first of the true fashion-plate magazines that was issued regularly. The plates were not decorated with color until 1790. Before 1790, dressmakers would color the plates themselves to enhance the dress designs and entice their lady customers to order garments".*
"The Lady's Magazine with its emphasis on the doings of the haut ton marked "fashion" as a structure around which middling rank women could mount their conversation about consumption. The Lady's Magazine tapped a grass-roots response to the subject, too, since it drew on its eager reader for the contributions that filled its pages. The magazine offered women the opportunity to speak to other women, to argue with one another, and often to provide one another with specialized information otherwise hard to come by. The Lady's, together with other women's magazines at the end of the century, nurtured a culture for women centered on material culture."+
Explore our popular costume section on our online giftshop for accessories
Michele Ann Young
was born in England. While in school, she majored in History and fell in love with the Regency era. Now living in Canada, she is thrilled to have the opportunity to rekindle that passion in her books. No Regrets
was her first book with the new Casablanca imprint from Sourcebooks, Inc. and is set in London and Paris in 1816. She now writes under the name Ann Lethbridge.
Fashion plates purchased from Moonstone Research and Publications and used with permission.
Select quotes from Cathy Decker's Regency Fashion Page.
*Laudermilk, Sharon, and Teresa L. Hamlin. The Regency Companion. New York: Garland, 1989
+Copeland, Edward. Women Writing About Money: Women's Fiction in England, 1790- 1820. Cambridge Studies in Romanticism. Eds.