Tag Archive | Regency fashion

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: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2216340281934103.

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

Digital

ISBN: 978-1-945503-02-3

$7.99

AmazonKoboiBooks

Print

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

Digital

ISBN: 978-1-945503-08-5

$7.99

Amazon • B&N • iBooks • Kobo

Print

ISBN: 978-1-945503-07-8

$34.99 (496 pp)

Amazon Barnes & Noble

 

Regency Rites: The Well-Dressed Regency Lady

gowns

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.

Wardrobe

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.

spencer
Lizzie wears a spencer over her dress.
pelisse
A pelisse à la militaire
mantle_reticule
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.

turbans
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

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.

parasol

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.

Shopping!!!

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