09 February 2021
A cut above: Regency dress - Discover the fashion era that inspired Bridgerton with costume and fashion historian Jayne Shrimpton
Love the costumes in Bridgerton? Find out more about the Regency period…
We caught up with costume and fashion historian Jayne Shrimpton – here she shares a few thoughts on Regency fashion.
Family Tree: What is it you love about Regency fashion in general?
Jayne Shrimpton: It's a really popular period that seems so well-known, through literature, film and TV dramas and undoubtedly both male and female modes are aesthetically elegant and stylish, appealing to most people's taste.
Yet there is also much more to discover, the diverse and exciting influences on dress of the era, from political events and military uniforms, to changing textile technology and luxury oriental goods.
FT: The clothes for the men are delightful and dashing too aren’t they? Can you tell us a bit about mens’ Regency clothing?
Jayne: Yes, Regency menswear is very dashing, and has astonishing appeal - especially when the cutaway or swallow-tailed riding coats and morning coats are teamed with skin-tight pantaloons and leather boots!
The overall style reflected the late-18th/19th century neoclassical vogue for emulating antique statuary, the emphasis on a smooth, moulded silhouette that outlined the body's contours. However, it also drew on the English country gentleman and sporting look, a relatively plain, unostentatious image that was regarded as suitably 'democratic' in post-Revolutionary France and throughout Europe.
English tailoring expertise was essential to create the understated but immaculate look and 'Beau' Brummell, the Prince Regent's friend and sartorial advisor, played a major role in developing the impeccable fashions associated with the Regency 'dandy'.
FT: What is your favourite Regency look/or favourite garment or element of Regency fashion?
Jayne: I love the ladies' active, outdoor costumes, especially the stylish tailored riding habits and feathered or helmet-like hats, which borrowed much from men's dress and military uniforms. Very bold and becoming.
FT: Can you recommend a good website or museum (when they’re allowed to re-open) to visit for Regency collections?
Jayne: A number of UK museums have good Regency dress collections, including the V & A and Brighton, and there has for a long time been a strong emphasis on Regency Fashion in Bath, where there is the Fashion Museum and the Fashion Research Centre.
Join us for an afternoon of Regency dress: fashion in the early 1800s
In this exclusive live webinar, we explore the fashions of our ancestors in the early 1800s, with costume & fashion historian Jayne Shrimpton.
Wednesday 3rd March, 3pm (GMT)
Tickets cost £10.
The talk will be hosted on Zoom and begin at 3pm GMT on Wednesday 3rd March. It will last an hour, followed by time for questions with costume and fashion historian Jayne Shrimpton.
Time for tea?
And why not make an occasion of it. Dust off your tea pot and prepare yourself an afternoon tea to sup while you sit back and enjoy Jayne Shrimpton’s talk.
To recreate a Georgian tea – think green tea, or light fragrant black tea. Leaves not bags, if possible. Teapot – a must, again, if possible.
Afternoon tea is said to have been invented by Anna Duchess of Bedford, but that wasn’t until the 1840s, a little after the Regency era. However, tea as a drink was extremely popular in early 1800s. For sustenance, aim for small finger sandwiches, with the crusts cut off (brown or white bread), fairy cakes with butter cream, or perhaps a pound cake, and maybe a jelly. Enjoy.