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This is a lovely early Regency portrait (1790s) by Vigee' le Brun. Note the very full skirt, long hair and tied down straw hat. The lady is also wearing a chemisette, which peeps out at her neckline beneath the shawl. Thank you to Carol Gerten, whose absolutely fantastic website supplied this image and several more below!
Karen Augusta of Antique Fashion.com.com has graciously allowed me to share some of the photographs she has taken of original garments she is selling in her online shop. Studying original clothing is essential for recreating the correct look of the period, which changed from year to year. Thank you to Karen for sharing her knowledge and her beautiful pictures! Be sure to visit her site for more breathtaking gowns from the 18th-20th centuries!
The first gown shown above (white) is of woven cotton with fringe trimming. Karen writes, "Original owner was Ann Balton Booth. She was born in Chestertown, Maryland and after marrying, moved to Philadelphia. Although this style of dress began to be popular in America in the late 18th c., the double draw string back, the square neckline, and the back-gathered sleeve with added puff suggests a date of a decade later. Looking closely you can see evidence that this was a much loved dress by observing the careful mends in the fabric. The fabric itself is special. All together, this early 19th century dress is simple, classic and elegant!" The next gown is a silk pelisse dress of striped green. Writes Karen, "This dress belonged to Mary Murdock Richards (MMR). She was born in 1787 in Roxbury, MA. Although popular in the early 19th Century, surviving pelisse dresses are a rarity today. This garment clearly shows how the fashionable outer garment, the pelisse, was used as the style model for an elegant day dress. The front buttons are merely for show; below the empire waist they are not functional. The dress's fully gathered back and fabric rosette trim are also typical of pelisse of this period. It is possible that the collar was worn standing up away from the neck with a cotton and lace ruff inside." Finally, there is a wonderful checked silk spencer jacket in beautiful condition. Karen got this from the estate of an 18th century Massachusetts family. "Rebecca Kingsbury (b. 1713, d. 1807) of West Dedham, MA. married Nathaniel Gay on April 10, 1740. I believe that the original owner of this spencer was their granddaughter, Susannah Gay Plimpton." Beautiful!It fastens with brass hooks and eyes.
Top, left to right: The Daughters of Col. Hardy, Mrs. Henry Baring and Her Children, Mrs. Siddons and Mrs. Wolff by Lawrence. Note the dramatic settings and poses, as well as the lustrous colors.
Middle, left to right: Mme. Riviere and Mme. Senonnes by Ingres; Caroline Murat and Her Children and Comtesse Regnault by Francois Gerard.
Bottom, left to right: Abigail Adams, Elizabeth Salisbury and Dolley Madison by Gilbert Stuart; Mme. Vincent and Young Woman Ironing by Boilly.
(Click on the thumbnails for larger images, but be warned! They are very large so that you can drool over all the incredible details on this gown.) This is the most breathtaking piece of handiwork I've yet seen from this period. I will let the gal who shared photos of this gown describe it:
"This belongs to my art teacher, who is an expert in the West on historical clothing from 1800-1850. She is amazing! She has a three-volume dissertation for her Ph.D. and a clothing collection of 30,000 items. She bought this dress in Scotland for $300, and she dates it to about 1813. Can I just tell you, when I saw this dress I very nearly fainted. I had to lean over and breathe deeply, it was just so beautiful. It actually has an overdress with ends that come just below the three small flounces on the skirt and an underdress that comes up and ties at the high empire waistline. The fabric is the finest, sheerest batiste or mull you can imagine, and the hand-done embroidery is so meticulously done it just about makes your nose bleed to look at it. Don't you love the long sleeves that come down over her hands? I love the tiny shoulder straps and tiny tucks and insertion on the bodice."
Thank you, Lynde, for sharing this heavenly piece of fashion history!
The same gal who shared the photos of the 1813 gown above also put on a fashion show that highlighted the styles of every decade for the last two centuries (talk about a daunting undertaking!). She made the outfits seen in these pictures, basing them upon fashion plates and original gowns from the decades represented. Lynde is a painter and uses period fashions for her models in her beautiful works of art. Perhaps next Spring I can persuade her to let me share her work on my site!
This is a lovely example of an authentic Regency gown of fine white muslin. This probably dates to the 18-teens, since it has a more "fan"-like bodice and the fancier sleeves with puffed short sleeves over long. Note the extra-long sleeves with wristbands that button over and ruffles that extend past the knuckles.
Here's a dandy suit! WOW! Note how short the jacket is in front and how long the waistcoat is underneath. The rich maroon color of the jacket is truly striking, and the high standing collar is something, isn't it? Note the tight fit of the breeches below the knee. This was the era when men showed off their calves (some men even wore "calf enhancers" inside their stockings, if you can imagine!).
These photos technically belong in the Victorian section, since they were taken in 1897, but the fashions are pure Regency, so I decided to share them here. The woman on the left is Florence, Lady Delamere, neé Cole (1878-1914), the fourth daughter of the 4th Earl of Enniskillen. She is modeling a late 1790s costume which she wore for the Devonshire (England) House Masquerade Ball, 2 July 1897. The woman on the right is Maud (Frederica Elizabeth), Viscountess Milton, later Countess Fitzwilliam (1877-1967), née Dundas, the second daughter of the 1st Marquis of Zetland. She models an early 1800s costume, which she wore to the same ball. Her costume was described in The Court Circular, 10 July 1897: "Empire dress of cream satin, finished at the waist with a jewelled belt, and worn with a long coat, made in golden gauze over mauve satin, and fitting in quite closely to the waist at the back. With this she wore a turban-like headdress or hat of gold gauze and cream satin, with long mauve ostrich feathers drooping over the hair at the back." Wow! These photographs are from the Lafayette Project, which you can view in its entirety at this link.
|A group of ladies playing hide and seek.|
|"Lady with Fan" by Ingres.|
|Queen Luise and her sister, Frederika.|
|Two sisters dancing. Note the clinging nature of the gowns. Very French!|
This French fashion plate shows the decided classical Grecian influence upon Regency fashion. Note the trimming on the overskirt in the center and the hairstyles on the ladies.