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:
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?
Under the Covers is graciously giving away
all five books as pictured here (one is a March ARC)
Week-long giveaway – International
♡ Don’t want to miss any of our posts? ♡
- A Nefarious Engagement by Lynn Messina: A Historical Mystery Review - October 14, 2022
- Prime Mating Agency Series by Regine Abel: Guide, Reading Order and Review - October 10, 2022
- An Infamous Betrayal by Lynn Messina: Historical Mystery Review - October 6, 2022