Regarding the Distribution of Regency Fashion Prints

Ladies’ publications such as La Belle Assemblée, Ladies Monthly Museum, Lady’s Magazine, etc. were not merely fashion-oriented. Each issue had one or two fashion prints, a portrait engraving of some celebrated person (usually a woman) and perhaps other illustrations. Ackermann’s Repository, which was for ladies and gentlemen both, also had prints of furniture, homes, inventions, etc. The remainder of the publication consisted of articles.

I am not aware of any publication that consisted only of fashion prints, although people could remove the fashion prints and have them bound up together. I have one of these myself.

Correction: The Journal des Dames et des Modes was a weekly publication and thus there were around 5-6 fashion prints per MONTH.

More commonly, people would collect individual issues and have them bound together. I have quite a few of those, occasionally with an issue or two missing. (Somebody’s dog probably ate it or something.) If these were in a Regency home, however, they would be up to a year old, which is a long time in terms of fashion.

It may seem nit-picky, but I twinge when I read a story where a lady picks up Ackermann’s and pages through the latest fashions. The latest Ackermann’s would have TWO fashion prints.

Just a friendly FYI.

New Release: Ackermann’s Repository Fashion Prints: 1809-1828

It all started last winter when I decided to begin collecting fashion prints. Not just images of fashion prints on Pinterest, but real antique fashion prints. The images are pretty, but the thought of having the real piece of paper printed and hand-colored by people two hundred years ago gives me a thrill. I feel as though touching it makes me a part of history (although so far I haven’t been whisked back in time, unfortunately).

As more and more little packages began arriving from England, France, Australia, and the U.S., I started to lose track of which prints I already had, causing me to have a few duplicates. Scrivener, an application I use for writing projects, seemed an obvious choice for organizing my fashion prints. I simply grouped the scanned images into chapters by year, thus making it simple to refer to when considering the purchase of new prints.

But what I really wanted was some sort of reference book with all the prints and descriptions to use in my writing projects. Those I purchased online were beautiful and extremely well done, but they didn’t include them all. I wanted a book with them all. I didn’t realize at the time how large a book that would be, or that it was probably an impossible task. It didn’t matter. I wasn’t thinking of publishing a book or anything. I just wanted to have them on hand.

So I started with Ackermann’s Repository, because I knew where to download issues from all of its twenty years. It was tedious going, but it gave me something to do in the afternoons when Dad and I were watching TV (I’m a caregiver in the winter), and I had to be able to switch my attention off and on when he needed something. I went through every issue and screenshot the two prints from each issue as well as the descriptions and fashion commentary. And a few other things I found of interest there. (Someday I want to go through and read some of the other articles and stories as well.) I kept everything in folders by month and year, and eventually I started typing out the text and organizing it all in another Scrivener project. It turned out to be a HUGE project: 480 fashion prints and over 200,000 words. (Fortunately, I am a very fast typist.)

About halfway through, I began to think perhaps other authors might benefit from having this information. It wouldn’t take much to format it as an e-book. It didn’t occur to me to put it up for sale until later, when several authors assured me they would love to purchase it. And frankly, the process of formatting so many images and text turned out to be extremely time-consuming, even when my plan was for an e-book only. Charging a few dollars for such a comprehensive project seemed reasonable enough. Little did I know how large the book was going to be. 1462 pages, to be precise. Amazon warned me it was a big file. I hope the buyers don’t have problems with it.

Eventually I mentioned it at a Facebook party, and everyone kept asking if it was going to be in print. Well, I hadn’t thought of doing that right away, but as long as I had all the files, I thought I might as well look into it. And when I did, I had some surprises coming.

First of all, Createspace won’t print a 1462-page book. In fact, Createspace’s limit is 480 pages. So I had to break the book down into four parts: 1809-1814, 1815-1818, 1819-1822, 1823-1828. Four books, in addition to the original monstrously huge e-book. Four books is four times the amount of work, but oh well. I plugged away.

That leads to the second surprise. Color books of 300-400 pages are very expensive. The lowest price Createspace would allow me to set was $46+, with zero royalties. That pretty much floored me. Who’s going to pay $200 for four books? But hey, they were already done. I couldn’t stop now.

However, it occurred to me that many potential purchasers might not be that interested in the fashion commentary. What if I put together a print book with only the fashion prints? Since there were 480 prints alone, the minimum number of pages I needed was 492. Createspace only does a maximum of 480. So I decided to check out Ingram Spark. Ingram will publish a wider range of sizes and pages than Createspace, so I initiated the process. Ingram will do an e-book for the same price as a print book, so that’s how I ended up with another e-book (with the prints only) as well as another print book.

Seven. That’s seven versions in all. Does that sound excessive? Of course it does. But through it all, I learned so much. I hope historical fashion connoisseurs will find at least one of them useful.

And now… I think I better get back to writing stories.

P.S. I also created a Regency fashion print Facebook group. Here’s the link if you are interested:

Also, today at 4 p.m. EDT, I’m hosting a release party for my Ackermann books. If you’d like to attend, you must first join the group above, and then you’ll have access to the event. Guest authors include: Ella Quinn, Heather King, Caroline Warfield, Jude Knight, Louisa Cornell, Bluestocking Belles, Cora Lee, Cerise DeLand, Collette Cameron, Rue Allyn, Lizzi Tremayne, Victoria Vane, Elizabeth Ellen Carter, Aileen Fish, and Sherry Ewing. Will I see you there?

Fashion Prints with Commentary


ISBN: 978-1-945503-02-3




ISBN: 978-1-945503-03-0

$49.99 (374 pp)

Ackermann’s Fashion Prints 1809-1814 (Vol. 1)

ISBN: 978-1-945503-04-7

$49.99 (360 pp)

Ackermann’s Fashion Prints 1815-1818 (Vol. 2)

ISBN: 978-1-945503-05-4

$49.99 (364 pp)

Ackermann’s Fashion Prints 1819-1822 (Vol. 3)

ISBN: 978-1-945503-06-1

$52.99 (408 pp)

Ackermann’s Fashion Prints 1823-1828 (Vol. 4)

Fashion Prints without Commentary


ISBN: 978-1-945503-08-5


Amazon • B&N • iBooks • Kobo


ISBN: 978-1-945503-07-8

$34.99 (496 pp)

Amazon Barnes & Noble


Chatsworth: A Grand House, To Be Sure, But Would You Wish to Live There?

Charming Chatsworth

Since reading Amanda Foreman’s Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, which includes much of the infamous duchess’s letters and journal entries, I’ve been fascinated by the Devonshire family. The only thing missing among the highly dramatic history of this noble, highly-esteemed family—possibly the wealthiest in England in the Georgian era—is a happy ending. The Devonshires of this period are prime examples of failed British aristocratic marriage and family values. With a seemingly endless source of income and the highest social status, why were these people so desperately unhappy?

It also begs the question that if we all truly believe that money and possessions not only do not make us happy but tend to bring along with them worries and responsibilities to weigh us down, then why do so many of us never seem to have enough? How much is enough? A comfortable life with enough income to cover the bills sounds reasonable. But does that mean stately homes, expensive cars, and a yacht to sail around the world? If you have that, would you be satisfied, or would you yearn for even more? If the billionaires of this world were truly happy, then why do they keep going after more and more? What do you do with a billion dollars anyway, especially with tax loopholes that the ordinary citizen does not enjoy? In the end, do you get a solid gold casket or something? Do you get special privileges in heaven?

Enough preaching. I wanted to write about my Chatsworth experiences this week. Yes, there are lessons to be learned. Unfortunately, most people aren’t inclined to learn from the past, and thus we keep making the same mistakes over and over.

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire

Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire

Pronounced George-ayna, by the way. Georgiana was the oldest daughter of the First Earl Spencer and his wife, also Georgiana. The Earl and his wife were childhood sweethearts. If you visit Spencer House on St. James Place in London (see my Pinterest board here), you will be told about their great love and shown all sorts of decorative features that proclaim their love match. It truly warms the heart of a romance addict. Except that…it doesn’t ring true when you realize they subjected their beloved seventeen-year-old daughter to a loveless marriage that brought her much unhappiness. What went wrong?

Well, perhaps it wasn’t entirely their fault. Young Georgiana probably thought it was a dream come true to marry the richest man in England who also happened to be a duke (the 5th Duke of Devonshire). It must have been a shock, though, to discover that her husband had no intention of being faithful, that even at the time of their marriage, his mistress gave birth to an illegitimate daughter who was eventually brought into the Devonshire family to be raised after her mother died. Georgiana herself found it difficult to conceive and suffered miscarriages before producing three children, two daughters, and finally a son, sixteen years after her marriage.

William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire

William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire

Georgiana enjoyed her life as a leading lady of fashion and politics in the ton. A friend of Queen Marie Antoinette of France, they copied each other’s fashions, including excessively tall hairstyles and large hats. Georgiana was also a leader of the Whig movement, hosting popular salons at Devonshire House in London for all the prominent Whigs of the time. (See a blog post here about her political exploits.) But with all this, she wasn’t happy. She spent lavishly, and gambled excessively (see post about her gambling exploits here), to the point where even the coffers of the richest man in England were seriously threatened. Her mother, the Countess Spencer—who also gambled beyond her means, particularly after her beloved husband died—warned her to be honest with her husband and to be more prudent in her gambling. Didn’t happen. The duke only found out the truth about her debts after her death. I guess they didn’t have Gamblers Anonymous in those days, or they’d know an addict isn’t able to manage his addiction prudently without giving it up entirely.

Georgiana seemed to have everything, and yet, she didn’t. Desperate for a close friend, when she met Lady Elizabeth Foster, who was separated from her husband and sons and seemingly destitute, Georgiana insisted she reside with them, and so began the ménage à trois. Lady Foster bore Georgiana’s husband two illegitimate children, who were brought up in the Devonshire home with their half-siblings, and Georgiana didn’t seem to mind. She and Bess were the best of friends, although many, including Lady Spencer, believed Bess to be a con-artist of the worst kind.

Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey and later Prime Minister

Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey and later Prime Minister

After the birth of her son, who later became the 6th Duke, Georgiana felt free to have love affairs of her own. She fell in love with Charles Grey, later to become an earl and a prime minister, and bore him a daughter, who was raised by the child’s paternal grandparents. Her husband was enraged and exiled Georgiana to France for three years, during which time she worried that her son would never know her. (Okay, the duke was a man of his time and perhaps not so terrible as he seems today, but punishing his wife for something he’d been doing for all their marriage just does not give a good impression of his character. Maybe it’s just me?)

Georgiana died in 1806 at 48 of a liver abscess (an eerie coincidence since I had this same affliction last fall, but am completely healed, thank heavens), and three years later, Lady Foster married the duke and became the second duchess, whereupon she admitted the paternity of her two illegitimate children and demanded that the duke provide for them as handsomely (or more so) as his legitimate children. (No, I don’t like her. Can you tell?)

Elizabeth Cavendish, second wife of the 5th Duke of Devonshire

Elizabeth Cavendish, second wife of the 5th Duke of Devonshire

The 6th Duke

Georgiana’s son was sixteen when his mother died and twenty-one when his father died and he inherited. He was active in Whig politics, but his special interest was landscaping and architecture. He had a north wing added to the house and an extensive renovation of the gardens. He spent lavishly to improve the property, which at that time included about 83,000 acres. William never married, having courted Georgiana’s sister’s daughter, Lady Caroline Ponsonby (yes, the one who went nutso over Lord Byron) and lost her to William Lamb, who undoubtedly regretted his marriage in retrospect. Perhaps His Grace realized his good fortunate in escaping a miserable marriage and couldn’t bring himself to risk it again. Certainly the marriages in his own family must have given him quite a few qualms!

The Devonshire Arms

The Devonshire Arms

The Devonshire Arms

Described as “a picturesque country pub at the heart of village life, offering the charm and character of an historic inn with a contemporary twist,” the Devonshire Arms offers comfortable rooms, superb food, and a quaint, medieval building that won’t fail to inspire any dedicated history lovers who book rooms here. Check out my Pinterest board here. And the village of Beeley is equally charming.


Chatsworth is such a beautiful place, filled with such priceless art and furnishings (see Pinterest board here), that one can’t quite understand how so many of its inhabitants, possessed of great wealth and just about anything they wished, were so obviously unhappy. I thought about this a great deal as I took my time touring the rooms and listening to the audioguide, and even as I walked among the rolling hills and sheep from my lodgings to the house. So much beauty and wealth, and yet, I am not envious. At this point in my life, I don’t aspire to such heavy responsibilities, no matter the grandeur and glamorous lifestyle. It is enough for me to have the privilege of seeing it and experiencing it this one time.

Lovely ceilings throughout the house

Lovely ceilings throughout the house

Sketches Room (my favorite)

Sketches Room (my favorite)

Countess Spencer, Georgiana's mother

Countess Spencer, Georgiana’s mother

Dining Room

Dining Room

Devonshire family portraits

Devonshire family portraits

Wellington Bedroom

Wellington Bedroom

On With the New: Wall sculpture of DNA maps of current Devonshire family

On With the New: Wall sculpture of DNA maps of current Devonshire family

What do you think? Would you like to live the life of a wealthy celebrity? I’m curious to know if others feel as I do that “enough is enough”, and that happiness is not found in great wealth and possessions.

The Rise and Fall of Beau Brummell

The epitome of a Regency dandy was a young man by the name of George Brummell. George did not grow up in the lap of luxury—his grandfather was rumored to be a personal servant—but his father was secretary to Lord North, and he was sent to Eton at the age of twelve in 1790, where he became very popular. Because of his attention to fashion and grooming, it wasn’t long before he became a great friend of the Prince Regent, who, in 1794, gave him a commission in his own regiment, the 10th Hussars. Brummell, nicknamed “Buck” by his intimates, spent most of his time on military leave, until he inherited 30,000 pounds and resigned, setting up his own household in 1798 at No. 4 Chesterfield Street.


Brummell decreed that cut and fit in a gentleman’s clothing were more important than elaborate fabrics. His insistence on cleanliness had the effect of pulling English gentlemen out of the stables and into the baths, and then poured into closely-fitting, well-cut clothing, including snow-white neckcloths tied into elaborate knots, smoothly shaved faces, and hair that required three hairdressers—one for the front, one for the sides and one for the back.

“The Beau” was known for his audacious wit and his condescending comments centering on the bad taste of others, men and women alike. A set-down from him could ruin a young person’s reputation and send them running from London in shame. Brummell and his dandies made it unfashionable to show emotion or any concern for the consequences of their actions. Although he had no social standing of his own, he had even the highest-ranked gentlemen admiring and copying his dress and behavior. Along with Lord Alvanley, Henry Pierpont and Henry Mildmay, he was part of the “Dandy Club” of Watier’s.

Unfortunately, Brummell’s extravagance, gambling and sharp tongue also led to his downfall. In 1813 at a party, the Prince Regent snubbed Brummell and Mildmay, staring them in the face while refusing to speak to them. Brummell quipped to Alvanley, “Who is your fat friend?” and that was the beginning of the end for Brummell.

In 1816 he fled to Calais where he lived in poverty until his death of syphilis in 1840.


#4 chesterfield st.

No. 4 Chesterfield Street

Laudermilk, Sharon H. and Hamlin, Theresa L., The Regency Companion, Garland Publishing, 1989.

The Regency Gentleman series

The Regency Gentleman: His Upbringing

The Fashionable Gentleman

The Rise and Fall of Beau Brummell 

Gentlemen’s Clubs in Regency London

Captain Who?

Gentlemen’s Sports in the Regency

The Gentleman’s Passion for Horses

Riding to the Hounds

The Regency Gentleman’s Passion for the Turf

The Fashionable Gentleman


Regency gentlemen had a serious obsession with fashion, especially after Beau Brummell arrived on the London scene. More about him next week.

During the Regency, knee breeches gave rise to trousers, although it was a good long time before trousers were accepted at Almack’s Assembly Rooms. By 1816, after Brummell’s flight to the continent, trousers became all the rage, with breeches reserved for very formal occasions (except for older gentlemen who did not adapt well to change).

Pantaloons and trousers were made of light colors, such as buff or yellow, and clung tightly to the body. Pantaloons had side slits with buttons to keep them tight, and straps under the instep to keep them in place.


A gentleman’s shirt tended to be long, shapeless, and white. Over the shirt would go the waistcoat (white for evening wear, colorful and eye-catching for day wear). An elaborately-tied cravat would spill over the shirt and waistcoat. Over that would be a dress coat with tails—cut in a straight line from the waist down), or a morning coat or riding coat, which also sported tails, but was cut away in front. Following Waterloo, a frock coat with a military design became popular for informal occasions. Over all of this would be a great coat, worn all year round, often with capes of various lengths along the top.




morning coat or riding coat

morning coat or riding coat

Black boots were the daytime shoes of choice for a Regency gentleman, particularly Hessians, which were knee boots that sported a tassle in front. Hessians were worn over the trousers, but at the end of the Regency, Wellington boots, which were worn under breeches, which were tied at the foot, became popular. For evening wear, black pumps—perhaps made of the new patent leather—and silk stockings were worn. Hoby was the bootmaker of choice.

Regency gentlemen wore top hats of various shapes and sizes, and hats made of beaver were quite popular. Lock’s was the hatter of choice for the exclusive Regency gentleman. Gloves, jewelry (cravat pins, rings, and fobs), snuff boxes, quizzing glasses, and scents were also important to a gentleman’s toilette. Thanks to Beau Brummell’s fastidious cleanliness, bathing also become de rigueur in the Regency.

Beau Brummell

Beau Brummell

Just as Regency ladies required a personal maid or abigail to assist them with dressing and care for their wardrobe, gentlemen required the services of a valet.

For further information:

Kristen Koster

Laudermilk, Sharon H. and Hamlin, Theresa L., The Regency Companion, Garland Publishing, 1989.

The Regency Gentleman series

The Regency Gentleman: His Upbringing

The Fashionable Gentleman

The Rise and Fall of Beau Brummell 

Gentlemen’s Clubs in Regency London

Captain Who?

Gentlemen’s Sports in the Regency

The Gentleman’s Passion for Horses

Riding to the Hounds

The Regency Gentleman’s Passion for the Turf

Regency Rites: The Well-Dressed Regency Lady


By the early nineteenth century, imitation of the classical was the rage in Europe, in architecture as well as fashion. Ladies’ gowns became simpler, with low necklines and ribbons tied beneath the bust, usually white due to a mistaken belief that the white marble statues being excavated in Greece were the original color. (They weren’t; the original brightly-colored paint had worn off.) Napoleon preferred ladies in white, and even though Britain and France were at war during this time, French fashions were all the rage.

Thin fabrics were de rigueur, muslin being the most popular, followed by silks and satins. As the new century progressed into the Regency and beyond, ladies’ gowns became more ornate, with another gown worn over the classical one, either a shorter length or with the front panels open to reveal the under-dress. Trims became more and more ornate, with ribbons, bows, and furbelows everywhere; collars of Elizabethan lace took the stage. By 1815, colored and grander fabrics were back.


A fashionable lady had an extensive dress wardrobe, including:

  • carriage dresses

  • court dresses

  • dinner dresses

  • evening dresses

  • full evening dresses

  • garden dresses

  • morning dresses (also called “undress”)

  • opera dresses

  • promenade dresses

  • riding dresses

  • theater dresses

  • walking dresses

 Even in the dead of winter, many ladies would rather shiver in their flimsy gowns than be so unfashionable as to wear a heavy wrap. However, they did have shawls—Kashmir shawls had the advantage of being both light and warm—and various types of coats and jackets. A pelisse was an elegant overdress with long sleeves that buttoned down the front. A mantle was a rectangular fabric gathered at the neck. A spencer was simply a short jacket that reached the waist of the gown. Cloaks were often lined and/or trimmed with fur.

Lizzie wears a spencer over her dress.
A pelisse à la militaire
The lady wears a mantle and carries a reticule.

For the most part, shoes in this period were “straights,” meaning there was no left or right shoe. Pumps made of embellished kid called slippers were very popular. Ladies had half-boots for walking, and stout boots for cold weather might be fur-lined. White silk hose tied at the knee (or later, the thigh) were often decorated with flowers or bowknots.

short corset common in the Regency
short corset common in the Regency

Under-drawers were not widely worn until after the Regency, around 1820. Short corsets with shaped cups for the breasts were common, although longer corsets were available to assist those with problem figures. A petticoat called a chemise was worn under the gown.

Hats & Accessories

Smaller, simpler bonnets gradually became more ornate, constructed with straw, velvet, satin, and crepe, trimmed with ribbons, ostrich plumes, and fabrics. Decorated caps (undress bonnets) of lace or satin were worn indoors and outdoors in informal settings. Turbans of various styles were popular for full-dress occasions.

Various styles of turbans popular in the Regency

A fashionable lady had ribbons, jewels, combs, plumes, and hairpieces to dress up her hair for elegant evenings. Gone was the “big hair” of the previous century that towered so high that once a lady’s hair caught fire from the chandelier (Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire). Classical hairstyles to match the classical gowns were “in”, and short, cropped hair, à la Titus, was popular through 1810.


Fans made of ivory with silk, gauze, or lace were another important accessory for every occasion. Every young lady learned the “language of the fan” in order to convey social messages without having to be rude. There were different fans for different occasions, and some were jeweled and hand-painted.

As for jewelry, simple gold crosses expanded to jeweled necklaces, bracelets, tiaras, and even elaborate clasps on shawls and wraps. Silk parasols, often decorated with fringe, were required during outdoor activities in order to prevent the development of freckles. A reticule, or ridicule, was a small bag often made with fabric from a gown used for carrying coins and items formerly carried in pockets.


A Lady’s Maid

A lady’s maid or abigail was necessary for such things as caring for clothing, preparing baths, dressing (gowns usually fastened in the back), and doing hair. She also accompanied her mistress while shopping and walking; young, unmarried ladies were not allowed out without chaperones, at least not while in the city.


One of my favorite scenes in Regency stories is when the ladies go shopping. After having my own Regency gown and pelisse made for me this year (by my own very talented mother), I wasn’t all that keen on the frequent fittings. And not being able to get in and out of my gown without assistance. But I LOVE feeling like a princess when I wear it!

Of course, having a gown made this way is a great deal more complicated—and expensive—than buying one in a department store. But then, the dress you end up with is uniquely yours by the time you add the trim and embellishments—you’re not likely to ever see anyone else wearing it.

Would you ever consider having a period gown made up like this? Where would you wear it?

Click here to see photos of my Regency outfit.

 The Regency Companion, Sharon Laudermilk and Theresa L. Hamlin, Garland Publishing, Inc., 1989, pp. 30-48.

The Regency Rites series

Regency Rites: The Well-Dressed Regency Lady 

Regency Rites: Presentation at Court

Regency Rites: Almack’s Assembly Rooms 

Regency Rites: The London Season

The Dress: Episode #3

In Kansas City at the Romantic Times Convention!

We did it!

The dress and coat are both done, no thanks to me since I got sick the last couple of days and couldn’t even help with the handwork. The best I could do was show up for fittings, pose for pictures, and eventually, pack up the car for the 1200-mile trip from the Florida retirement community to Kansas City. I still feel a bit like the wicked stepsister, taking off for the ball while leaving Cinderella at home to prepare two houses (mine and hers) for the summer while we head back to Ohio. I seriously owe you, Mom!

gown427-4My mom’s a genius! Not only did she do a fantastic job on both garments, but she sewed on hanger loops and outfitted me with a needle and thread in case something goes wrong. She really deserves to be here at RT on Wednesday night when I wear it to the Ellora’s Cave disco party (not going to do any disco dancing, however) and the 30th Anniversary Ball on Thursday. I’ve promised photos, and they’ll be posted here as well.

Observations on the entire process

  • This is not a project for an amateur. I could never have done this myself, and I do have some sewing experience. The fitted bodice required a LOT of pattern alterations, since we couldn’t use any sort of stretchy fabric and still remain anywhere close to authentic.
  • The gown my sister had made had two separate drawstrings in the bodice to make it more fitted, since she was not available for fittings. That turned out well, but I’m not sure that would have worked well with the pattern we used.
  • We had to fudge on the back closings, since we could not get the eyehole punch to work through two layers of fabric and interfacing. In the end, we used hooks and eyes and snaps, and yes, I do need a lady’s maid to help me into it. (Any volunteers?)

How much did I spend on this project?

  • As to that, I’m not sure I really want to know. The most costly trip to Jo-Ann’s was $143, and that was mostly for the fabric and lining (for both the gown and the coat). The price for the trim and lace was another $100 or so (and totally worth it, I think you will agree), and there were several other trips to Jo-Ann’s in various towns for things like interfacing and other sewing notions. A few things (like the eyehole punch) got returned too, so I can’t tell you the final cost. But I would guess it was at least $350, and that does NOT include the hours and hours my mother put into it. But that’s not all! I also invested a considerable sum in accessories, including:
  • Regency slippers with “diamond” clips, plus clockwork stockings, from American Duchess
  • ringlet hairpiece
  • three different tiaras (couldn’t make up my mind)
  • long white gloves
  • brooch to wear with the coat
  • special “undies” (not authentic, but who’s going to know?)

gown_detailBut it’s not about the money.

It’s never been about the money.

It started with my friend Ellen’s idea for promoting Susana Ellis the author at conferences like this one (although I suspect that I will not be the only one in costume here.) But it became so much more than that. I never could have guessed how much my mother and I bonded during this process—from the first days of discussing the project to the difficult decisions about fabric choice (would you believe we originally intended the blue satin to be the gown and the cream pintuck taffeta to be the coat?) and many setbacks (like when the sleeve had to be redone and then we had to abandon the project for a few days to head north for a funeral) and wondering if it was possible to finish both garments in time for the conference.

Surprisingly, even my father became invested in this project. During the times when he seemed to have some health setbacks himself and Mom started worrying about having to head north earlier than planned and not being able to finish the coat, he told her to quit worrying about him and just finish it! He wanted to see the final product as much as we did, and thus, he started working harder at his physical therapy exercises (he has Parkinson’s).

Today’s the day!

I’m writing this on Wednesday, so by the time this goes live, the first event (the Ellora’s Cave disco party) will be over and hopefully I will have some photos to post. I’m planning to wear the gown for a Club RT appearance at 3:30, and then comes the stage walk with the Ellora’s Cave caveman. Oh yeah!

Click here for the video of the walk across the stage!

coat427-3On Thursday I’ll be wearing it for the Expo from 4-6 and then the RT ball in the evening. On Friday morning I have another appearance at Club RT. By then I’m sure it’ll be ready for the dry cleaner’s and the next opportunity, probably the RWA Conference in Atlanta.

If you are going to be at any of these events, please come up and chat with me and check out the gown in person. I’m looking forward to making lots of reader-author friends while I’m here, and I do hope you will be one of them! Warning: don’t be surprised if I ask you to be “lady’s maid” for me! Regency ball gowns were generally worn by well-off young ladies with abigails to assist them in dressing, and unfortunately, my first choice in lady’s maids—my sister Gloria—had to stay home with her cat. Where is a hunky Ellora’s Cave caveman when you need one?

Oh, and in case you’re wondering: Mom is NOT interested in taking this up as a profession or a hobby. Being retired in itself is a very time-consuming activity. Once is enough…and I’m the lucky one!

The Dress: Episode #1

The Dress: Episode #2