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Regency Clothing

The Jane Austen Festival in Bath brings the beautiful Georgian City alive and for 10 days of the year the streets are full of people in Regency costume! 

Certain Festival events are costume only, so check out the programme to see if you have to be in Regency Costume. If it’s your first time in the world of Jane Austen, or your first time dressing up, our guide will give you a few pointers in the direction of finding that perfect Regency outfit. (Please note: These pages are meant as a guide for Regency outfits only, it may not be completely historically accurate.)

Lady’s Regency Wardrobe


A ladies Regency dress is a long ankle length dress, with a high empire waistline, resting just under the bust. This gives you the long classically Regency silhouette. Sleeves can be short or long covering the shoulders. Day dresses are normally made from cotton print fabrics, with ball dresses made from silks or more luscious fabric.


A Regency lady would normally wear a chemise, or petticoat as a base layer, with stays/corset over the top. The stays create that shelf look and the high waistline silhouette. A 21st Century brasserie also creates a perfectly adequate shape too of course, for those people who don’t wish to suffer in a corset all day! Stockings would also be worn.

Spencer Jackets/Pelisse Coats

Over the top of your dress, for an added layer out of doors a short Spencer jacket would be worn. A long Pelisse coat is also very fashionable, again with the empire high waistline.


A Regency bonnet is normally a basic straw made shape, covered in fabric, and with added feathers, flowers, and other accessories to create a decorative hat. Ribbons tied under the chin hold it in place on your head.


There are endless options to accessorise an outfit with, depending on what event you are heading to.A Reticule, the Regency version of a clutch bag, is a good idea for keeping those 21st Century valuables close to you at all times, but concealed inside a period authentic bag. Although it might not “always rain in Bath”, a practical item to add to your Regency outfit is a parasol or umbrella to keep yourselves cool or dry as you need.

For any of our Regency Balls, your essential items are long, above elbow length gloves, normally white.Ballrooms in Regency times were crowded hot places with lots of bodies dancing around, so a hand-held fan to cool yourself with is very necessary.A shawl is also a great idea for those chilly evenings as an extra layer. Good for accessorising an outfit with, for a grand entrance into a ball.


Regency footwear for ladies depended on what activity they were partaking in.When attending an event that includes dancing is it always a good idea to wear comfortable flat shoes. Little pumps, ballet shoes, trainers etc. are the best things to wear. High heels are not a good idea as Regency dancing can involve quick footwork.For outside wear little heeled, lace up ankle boots are practical, especially if you’re a lady who enjoys a long walk on a fine day.


A lady’s hair in the Regency period would always be up, never hanging loose. Curls were fashionable, a few tiny curls to frame the face, and the rest of the hair would be piled up on top of the head into a bun. Little embellishments such as flowers, jewelled pins or braids were popular for balls and evening activities. A few Regency hairstyle rules to follow are: Centre parting, high bun on top of the head, a few tiny curls to frame the face, and a clean bare back of the neck, this was to elongate the nape of the neck, as was considered slightly sexy in Regency times!

Gentleman’s Regency Wardrobe

Regency fashions for men were characterised by a tailored silhouette. Military, Navy and Army uniforms also had an influence on fashion during the Regency period, with many gentleman’s outfits having elements of them included in the design.

Breeches or trousers

Knee length tight breeches were starting to go out of fashion during the Regency era, and were replaced with full length trousers. The trousers have a front flap opening fastened with buttons.

Tailcoat (jacket)

A fitted tailcoat was the fashion during the Regency period, usually made in a solid colour but with contrasting lapels. Tailcoats were cut to emphasise a gentleman’s small waistline and broad shoulders.

Shirt and Collar

Shirts were almost exclusively white with a chin height, square cut collar to allow for a cravat to be tied over the top round the neckline.


A waistcoat was fitted and stopped a few inches below the line of the jacket at the front, so a bit of the sometimes very ornate waistcoat was shown off to the world.

Creating your own Regency outfit

Regency dresses are quite simple to sew yourself. The basic drawstring neckline dress is the best place to start if you are a new seamstress. Once you get into making your own Regency outfits you will never look back, and your Regency wardrobe will expand quickly!

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Regency Patterns

There are instructions for many different costume pieces, and clothing patterns which can be bought and downloaded on the Jane Austen Centre’s website.

Shop Regency Clothing

Adapting an outfit

It is also possible to create a Regency outfit from clothes you already have at home, or from items you find in charity shops. Here are a few ideas on creating your own Lady’s Regency outfit.Long dresses, preferably with short puffy, or long slim sleeves are best. With an ankle length skirt, and no shape in the waist. A dress with an under the bust waistline is even better. You can then use a piece of ribbon or fabric to create a sash. Fitting it right under the bust creating that Regency high waistline.

Find a short jacket, preferably in a robust, stiff material, tuck under the bottom edges so it fits just under the bust line, and secure with a few stitches, or a few ties with ribbon. This will create a Spencer Jacket.

Cropped military style jackets for ladies have been in fashion recently (as well as in Regency times!) They’re great for making your own Spencer Jacket.Shawls can be large scarves, preferably light in weight so they droop nicely. Pastels or plain patterned fabrics are best.

Old brooches, necklaces or hair accessories can often be found in charity shops. Contemporary shops also sometimes have older-looking accessories. Fans can be harder to find, but souvenir or novelty fans work fine. Reticule bags are almost impossible to source, but it is very easy to sew your own reticule, they are basically just a little drawstring bag.

Gloves can sometimes be found in charity shops but it is usually easier to buy these from a fancy dress store or online. Just make sure to buy matte gloves rather than shiny ones.

Light pink or white tights can be bought from dance shops or online.Flat ballerina style pumps are easy to source as Regency shoes.

Hire or Buy a Regency Costume

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Bath Theatrical Costume Hire



Hire beautiful Regency style costumes for the entirety of the festival. Our team will help you choose the ideal costume for day and / or evening wear.

We’ll be accepting bookings from Wednesday 1st May with an early bird offer available until 31st July.

Every year, we host a Pop-Up Shop at the Festival where you can collect and return your costumes. There you will find our team on hand to assist you; an assortment of accessories to purchase or hire, and a range of workshops on offer where you can make your own matching accessories.

Don’t leave it to the last minute, contact us now for more information on how to reserve your costume.

Email Bath Theatrical Costume Hire
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The Jane Austen Centre Online Gift Shop

The Jane Austen Centre Online Gift shop stock a selection of patterns, jewellery, hair pieces, fans, gloves, and other Regency items for sale.

Go to online gift shop
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Jane Austen Festival Fayre

The Jane Austen Festival Fayre normally runs on the first Saturday of each Festival after the Promenade finishes.

Many historical costume suppliers attend the Promenaders Fayre. It is a great opportunity to pick up those last few Regency accessories needed for the week of events to come. And also a good time to chat and discuss future costume wishes with these talented people.

Find out the latest Jane Austen Festival information on the Festival updates page.

Jane Austen Festival updates
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