We presented our Regency Costume Talk for the E.Y.E.S – East Yorkshire Embroidery Society in Cottingham recently. It was the second time we have visited the group – having previously presented our Tudor Talk. It went very well – over 90 ladies attended, they made us very welcome, and we certainly enjoyed presenting it. We were asked some interesting questions after the talk so I though you might like to read some of my replies –
One of the ladies asked to hear more about gloves worn during the regency period. I had mentioned that over the elbow gloves became popular around the time of Napoleon. Long gloves were always worn with evening dresses and for formal occasions. They were usually white and could be made of silk, cotton or even soft kidskin, they were tied, pinned or had garters to keep them up. Kate Winslet wore long gloves in the film Sense and Sensibility. Middle Class and Upper-class ladies always wore glove when they went out. When eating in company they also wore gloves for dining and placed their gloves neatly on their laps while sitting at the table – replacing their gloves when they had finished the meal. They also wore mittens (gloves without fingers) when sewing as it is impossible to sew properly when wearing gloves. The mittens would keep their hands warmer indoors when houses were cold.
I was asked by the ladies if I had designed and created the costume worn by my son Jamie who was dressed as Mr Darcy. My late husband Mick had appeared as Mr Bennett when I first presented my talk so I had designed him a Regency gentleman’s outfit. A tailcoat, shirt, waistcoat, cravat and flap front breeches worn with long boots. I have altered the tailcoat and waistcoat to fit Jamie and designed him a new linen shirt, cravat and trousers. One of the ladies even asked him to take off his shirt off a la Colin Firth!
Pink Spencer Jacket
I included my new pink spencer jacket in my costume display and one of the group asked me to tell her about more about it. I mentioned I had watched the latest version of Emma starring Anya Taylor-Joy in the titular role. I loved the beautiful costumes in the production and decided to recreate my favourite item of clothing worn in the film. I chose the Pink Spencer worn by Emma for the wedding of her friend. It was exquisite with it’s rouleau trimming and pretty sleeves. I knew would be not an easy to recreate it but was dtermined. The film version was created in fine silk but as I preferred my version to be warmer I recreated it in fine pink wool with extensive trimming. I admitted it was a very tricky job especially the trimming on the front but enjoyed the challenge. The Designer who created the actual jacket for the film contacted me and told me I had made an excellent reproduction!
Regency Ladies Keeping Warm
I was also asked – how do regency ladies keep warm during the regency Period
I had mentioned in my talk that during the Regency, light muslin dresses were very popular for afternoon dress. In the first few years of the 19th century, so many young women died after catching a chill or pneumonia due to wearing these light gowns in the winter that it was called “the muslin disease”!
To avoid catching pneumonia and keeping warm ladies wore layered clothing made of wool, flannel, or fur. Typical winter outerwear included a pelisse – a longer version of the Spencer which could be lined in fur and made of velvet or warm wool. Hooded capes, scarves, cloaks, shawls, scarves, muffs, gloves and, mittens, also thick socks, stockings, long wraps, caps, hats, and earmuffs were worn. Furs worn included beaver, fox, bear, and marten were common. Seal skin coats prevented wind and rain from penetrating to the skin, and swans down muffs kept delicate hands warm and protected.
The Head of Costume and Fashion Design at Hull was present – I met her after my talk – I am very pleased to say she said she was very impressed with my costume event. She said my outfits were beautifully made and the content of my lecture full of interesting facts, information and humour and not just dressmaking.
I am happy to say that The East Yorkshire Embroidery Society have booked us for a future event. I will present my new talk – ‘Marie Antoinette and what she wore to the Revolution’ in the near future.
We really enjoyed presenting the event and chatting to members of the society afterwards – we had a great afternoon!