A Scandalous Affair: Keeping Up Appearances

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KEEPING UP APPEARANCES

Welcome to A Scandalous Affair!  This week, we get to wax poetic about our love for all things related to Historical Romance. We don’t believe the genre gets the attention to deserve as it can’t seem to shake the reputation that only lascivious older ladies ever pick it up. Which, is very much untrue, plenty of lascivious younger ladies (and maybe even men?) adore the genre, as well as a whole range of the un-lascivious people as well. What’s not to love? Love struggling in a time where marriage was seen as more of a business decision, where class divisions were rife, where women especially but men as well had many limitations imposed on them by society… The possibilities for meaningful conflict and obstacles for love and romance to flourish are legion, which only makes the HEA that much more satisfying.

Another aspect of Historical Romance I love is the fashion. In the 1800s there was no chucking on a pair of leggings and your comfiest jumper to nip to the shops. The women and men in the higher echelons of society had to maintain appearances; no ragged, overlarge, holey yet insanely comfortable t-shirts for them. That got me looking at ladies fashion, as although my favourite authors paint a fabulous picture of what the heroines wear in their novels, I wanted to see details of what women wore during those times.

Then I realised I would probably need about 5 years off work and a research grant to span the whole of the 17th-19th Century. So instead I took a (shallow!) look into a much smaller era. I chose the Regency era which only ranged from approximately 1811-1820, so only 9 years and for a glimpse into the Regency Era, take a look at my post last year where I did a brief overview of this fascinating but very short time. Fashion in this time was changing to the kind of clothing you will be familiar with from Jane Austen adaptions. So take a glimpse at what a typical upper class lady of the Regency era would likely to be wearing.

Around the Regency period was when the Empire waistline became fashionable, where the waist of a dress comes up underneath the bust. The waistline moved around quite a lot throughout the era, at times the waist line would sit just under the bust and other times it would be inches below. However, what was common throughout was that a more relaxes Grecian style which showcased a woman’s figure much more than it had in the past. It was also seen as a sign of privilege if day dresses were white, as it showed you could afford to keep them clean, women also wore something called a chemisette for modesty when their day gown was cut low on the bust. For the evening dresses could be impressively lower cut on the bosom as you can see from the beautiful pink ball dress pictured below.

This is just a tiny snapshot into the fashion of that time. I haven’t spoken about the materials, underwear, shoes, headgear and adornments. Let alone men’s fashion. Or what working class people were wearing! It is fascinating reading though and if this little teeny tiny bit of information has intrigued you I highly recommend you take a longer look. Here are some of the places that I found information:

Jane Austen Site
Fashion-Era
Wikipedia
Jane Austen World

Of course, I can’t leave this post without recommending a few books! So, I decided rather than trying to pick the most appropriately dressed ladies, instead I am going to highlight some of my best dressed ladies and show you some of my favourite Historical Romances where a stunning gown features on the cover!

P.S. A couple of these may be UK covers…

What are your favourite
Historical Romance covers?

 

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Sophia Rose

Yep! Historical Romance is definitely a fav with me from the sweet to the spicy. I’m not particular about the place or era, but I do love Regency romance and those gorgeous fashions. I enjoy a few of those authors. My favorites are Mary Balogh, Darcie Wilde, Anne Gracie, and Jo Beverley.

Mary

I am one of those “lascivious old ladies”! Totally love that phrase, my husband will howl! I cut my historical romance eye teeth on the original bodice rippers, Kathleen Woodiwiss. And I think that’s still a problem with HR, the atrocious misconception of bodice rippers! And don’t get me started on the Fabio cover, Ugh! The HR world is so fabulous now. Love all the covers above, have read most of them!

Elizabeth

I do love the dresses of this period. Also, the gowns on some of those covers would be on my list as well as a wicked lord at the wedding by jillian hunter, and then comes marriage by celeste bradley are two that I can remember liking.

Kathy Valentine

Some great recommendations!! Great article!! Shared on all my socials!!

Kim

It’s interesting how different the UK covers are from the US ones.

Angel Doub

Great article!

Andra

Some of my more recent favourite covers for historical romances have been for Tessa Dare’s The Duchess Deal, Lisa Kleypas’ Devil in Spring and Shana Galen’t Third Son’s a Charm.

Kim Perry

I love the dresses on the covers! I love historical romances.

Elizabeth

I LOVE that Devil in Spring cover!! So pretty! ?

Jessica

Great article! Thanks for the book recommendations!

Glenda M

Love all those covers! There are tons of beautiful historical romance covers! I do love looking at and reading about the clothes but tbh I’m much happier wearing my jeans and t-shirts.

Betul E.

I love historical romances. My favorites are Western.

Anita H.

I love so many historical romance covers with the gorgeous gowns the ladies wear and the beautiful colors. My preference are the US covers, among my favorites are: Lisa Kleypas’ Devil In Spring and Hello Stranger, Sarah Maclean’s A Rogue By Any Other Names, No Good Duke Goes Unpunished and One Good Earl Deserves a Lover and a new one from Vivienne Lorret called How To Forget A Duke.

Sue G.

Anything by Sabrina Jeffries! Love her books!

Joanne B

Historical romance is a favorite of mine. Some of my favorite historical romance covers are The Duke in My Bed by Amelia Grey, The Impossible Bachelors series by Kieran Kramer, and usually anything by Mary Balough.

Dawn Dalrymple

love historical romance, so easy to read, so sweet. It was the genre that got me into reading books as a teenager. Jude Devarux, Julia London, Lisa Klepyas, Kerrigan Byrne, Sarah Maclean are a few faves and go to authors!!

Amy R

House of Pleasure series by Kate Pearce is one of my favorite historical series.

denise

I love the covers made by Jon Paul.

Timitra

I love Sarah MacLean’s, Kerrigan Bryne’s and Alyssa Cole’s covers

Geralynn Ross

I love that you included Addicted by Charlotte Featherstone. That is the last book of hers that I’ve found . Did she stop publishing ? I can’t find anything after 2012.

Joanna M

Historical romance is my poison! I love the dress of the woman on the cover of Kelly Bowen’s A Duke to Remember. I also love the covers of all the books in the Wayward Flowers by @Anna Bennett.

Laura Lovejoy-Brunk

I do love an historical book cover. They are always the dramatic couple , hot guy or sexy lady in a beautiful time piece dress. Sometimes i think the genre should shake it up and do something different for a cover….but when you see one, ya just know it’s historical so maybe not

lea

Covers by Lisa Kleypas are my favorite

Irma

I love Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series covers.

denise

I love the covers made by Jon Paul.

Joanna M

Historical romance is my poison! I love the dress of the woman on the cover of Kelly Bowen’s A Duke to Remember. I also love the covers of all the books in the Wayward Flowers by @Anna Bennett.

Joanne B

Historical romance is a favorite of mine. Some of my favorite historical romance covers are The Duke in My Bed by Amelia Grey, The Impossible Bachelors series by Kieran Kramer, and usually anything by Mary Balough.

Timitra

I love Sarah MacLean’s, Kerrigan Bryne’s and Alyssa Cole’s covers

lea

Covers by Lisa Kleypas are my favorite

Amy R

House of Pleasure series by Kate Pearce is one of my favorite historical series.

Laura Lovejoy-Brunk

I do love an historical book cover. They are always the dramatic couple , hot guy or sexy lady in a beautiful time piece dress. Sometimes i think the genre should shake it up and do something different for a cover….but when you see one, ya just know it’s historical so maybe not

Dawn Dalrymple

love historical romance, so easy to read, so sweet. It was the genre that got me into reading books as a teenager. Jude Devarux, Julia London, Lisa Klepyas, Kerrigan Byrne, Sarah Maclean are a few faves and go to authors!!

Geralynn Ross

I love that you included Addicted by Charlotte Featherstone. That is the last book of hers that I’ve found . Did she stop publishing ? I can’t find anything after 2012.

Irma

I love Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series covers.

Angel Doub

Great article!

Mary

I am one of those “lascivious old ladies”! Totally love that phrase, my husband will howl! I cut my historical romance eye teeth on the original bodice rippers, Kathleen Woodiwiss. And I think that’s still a problem with HR, the atrocious misconception of bodice rippers! And don’t get me started on the Fabio cover, Ugh! The HR world is so fabulous now. Love all the covers above, have read most of them!

Kathy Valentine

Some great recommendations!! Great article!! Shared on all my socials!!

Elizabeth

I LOVE that Devil in Spring cover!! So pretty! 😍

Andra

Some of my more recent favourite covers for historical romances have been for Tessa Dare’s The Duchess Deal, Lisa Kleypas’ Devil in Spring and Shana Galen’t Third Son’s a Charm.

Elizabeth

I do love the dresses of this period. Also, the gowns on some of those covers would be on my list as well as a wicked lord at the wedding by jillian hunter, and then comes marriage by celeste bradley are two that I can remember liking.

Jessica

Great article! Thanks for the book recommendations!

Sophia Rose

Yep! Historical Romance is definitely a fav with me from the sweet to the spicy. I’m not particular about the place or era, but I do love Regency romance and those gorgeous fashions. I enjoy a few of those authors. My favorites are Mary Balogh, Darcie Wilde, Anne Gracie, and Jo Beverley.

Glenda M

Love all those covers! There are tons of beautiful historical romance covers! I do love looking at and reading about the clothes but tbh I’m much happier wearing my jeans and t-shirts.

Kim

It’s interesting how different the UK covers are from the US ones.

Betul E.

I love historical romances. My favorites are Western.

Anita H.

I love so many historical romance covers with the gorgeous gowns the ladies wear and the beautiful colors. My preference are the US covers, among my favorites are: Lisa Kleypas’ Devil In Spring and Hello Stranger, Sarah Maclean’s A Rogue By Any Other Names, No Good Duke Goes Unpunished and One Good Earl Deserves a Lover and a new one from Vivienne Lorret called How To Forget A Duke.

Sue G.

Anything by Sabrina Jeffries! Love her books!

Kim Perry

I love the dresses on the covers! I love historical romances.