Austen Authors September 14, 2020: 1811 Fashions

If you know me at all, you know I am one of the least fashionable women in existence. My favorite apparel when I’m not one hundred pounds overweight is jeans and a t-shirt. (My favorite fat clothes are leggings and t-shirts, so …) Totally not what’s in or has been in style for the last, like thirty-five years. 😉

As a writer, I like to keep things as historically accurate as possible, or in the case of a story with a contemporary setting, as currently accurate. I rarely describe clothing; I assume all my readers have seen at least one television or movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and have an idea, however vague, of what gowns looked like in the Regency era. Sometimes I’ll make a Pinterest board for the current work-in-progress and that board will sometimes have fashion plates pinned to it, but only if I need the inspiration for whatever reason. For my last book, I did this, I think. I know I used the cover model’s clothes to help me describe something, too.

Anyway, I thought it might be cool to look at some of the fashion plates from 1811, and see what ladies were wearing at that time. (Side note: Burton Cottage was built just 99 years later … too cool! 😉 ) This is in no way going to be academic. It’s just a collection of images of what ladies aspired to wear in that year, with my commentary.

Fur pelisse

Leenie Brown is one of those who have lots of pins on Pinterest, and she shared a couple links with me. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to find the pictures from 1811 but once I did, I was golden. LOL

The first picture I found was a fur pelisse. I’ve always wondered at the pelisse thing, because they don’t seem to be very heavy. I suppose women were not meant to be outside that much, at least women of the gentry. Anyway, this pelisse is a peach kind of color, is ankle length, and has fur around the collar, wrists, and edges. I can’t tell if the entire thing is lined or if the garment is only trimmed in fur. I hope it was lined, though. Winter can get pretty cold, and I figure it can be quite damp in England.

The next link I came across was a carriage dress. To be honest, it looks to me more like a coat. Trimmed in fur just like the pelisse, this is a shorter garment. It also appears to me to fit differently, and like it might perhaps be warmer. It’s not as fancy as the pelisse. I actually like the carriage dress, though I have to wonder why they call it a dress when it’s clearly a coat.

Another website I found has a whole page of fashion plates that appeared in 1811’s Ackermann’s Repository. The page has this morning dress on it that covers the lady from her chin to her toes. It’s got lots of lace. Possibly too much lace. Mrs. Bennet would approve. 😉 But, it looks comfortable.

Carriage dress

Because ladies in the Regency had a dress for every occasion, and horseback riding fascinates me (I’d love to learn, despite my serious allergy to the beasts), I had to share this riding habit. I know from previous research that these gowns were longer so as to cover a lady’s feet and ankles when she was in the saddle. They did not require split skirts because it was not done at that time for a lady to ride astride. Instead, her legs were both on one side of the animal and she rode a sidesaddle.

Now that our lady has taken the carriage to the neighbor’s place for a visit, had an early morning ride, and lounged around the house for a while, I thought she might like to go to a soiree. I have seen both ball gowns and opera gowns and while someone like me might assume a formal dress could be used for both, it apparently could not. What I did was to choose a plate that said “evening dress” on it and decided to let it stand in for everything. 🙂

This evening dress is very pretty. It’s a little longer than I expected, but that’s okay. I kind of have a thing for long skirts. LOL it has some cute trim of some kind at knee height and a dark blue or green (I really can’t tell which, though I lean toward green) piece on the top.

While I’ve not dressed my imaginary character for every possibility, I think I’ve covered her day quite well. What do you think? Do you have a favorite of the outfits I shared?


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