Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Bridal Trousseau

Hello and welcome to this week’s blog post. Today I’d like to introduce you to my heroine for my next Regency novel, ‘Lord Seabrook Takes a Bride’.
Miss Bella Radcliff is left with little choice but to marry a man she has never met to save her family’s estate after her bother looses all the fortune at the gambling tables.
Lord Simon Seabrook has agreed to do his long time friend this one favour. Pay his debts and saves his family’s estate in exchange for his friend’s sister’s hand in marriage. It matters little to Seabrook that he has never met Miss Radcliff, after all, he is only marrying the girl so he will have a mother for his young daughter.
I’ll have more details about Bella and Seabrook later, but for now, what would Bella need in her trousseau for her marriage to a Lord.

There were many layers of undergarments for a lady in the Regency period to wear. The first layer was a chemise normally made of linen or cotton. This provided protection between skin and the corset, which was the second layer.

The purpose of the corset was to lift and separate the lady’s breasts. Corsets laced up in front, with straps that tied to the front section of the corset. The straps if needed could be pushed off the shoulder for gowns with wide necklines.

There were two types of corsets. The short corset’s was basically worn just to support the bust. The long corsets had a stiff piece of wood, called a busk, which was inserted down the front to help promote good posture and provide a smooth line from the bust to hip.

The last layer was the petticoat. Because of the high waist of the Regency gown, petticoats were made along the same style only without sleeves. The petticoat was worn to add fullness to the skirts and stop the thin fabric of a dress from clinging too closely to a lady’s body. They were made normally of light cotton for summer or a heavy flannel for winter. If the lady was one of London’s high society ladies, her petticoat would most likely have been made of fine silk. Petticoats were normally pulled closed with a drawstring at the neckline, and had a ruffle or two along the hem. Most petticoats were slightly longer than the dresses.

Drawers (or underpants) were beginning to be worn by only a few women during this period. The drawers were tied separately around the waist.

Stockings were made of silk or knitted cotton, and were held up by garters.

Morning Dresses:
The Regency morning dress is classed as the plainest dress a fashionable lady wore.

The morning dress was worn indoors with a cap, cap-bonnet, turban, or veil. Most morning dresses were made from plain or print fabric. In most cases the morning dress was not an outfit a young lady would wish to be seen in while receiving visitors.

However, if a young lady lived in the more fashionable society, morning dresses could get quite sophisticated.

The Afternoon Dress:
As opposed to the morning dress, the afternoon dress was worn to be seen. These were mostly made of light muslins. One rule of the regency era was that, one never displayed one’s bosom during the day. Dresses with scoop necklines were filled in with a chemisette or scarf. 

There were many different styles of afternoon dresses all with simular purposes.

The Walking Dress
Walking dress is normally a dressier style of morning or afternoon dress worn with some type of wrap and an elaborate headdress, such as a bonnet, hat, or turban. They were for the most part made be made it the most fashionable styles. The walking dress was worn when shopping, walking in the park or during the morning when paying a visit.

The Promenade Dress
The Promenade dress was worn in the fashionable London parks, where one could walk or as the dress suggests promenade. This was one of the social rituals of London. The promenade dress is more elegant than the walking dress. 

The Carriage/Travelling Dress
The carriage dress was made of slightly heavier fabrics than the walking and promenade dresses. This was to stop the fabric from wrinkling especially on long trips.
The Riding Dress/Habit:
The Riding outfit in the Regency period was worn for simular reasons as the promenade and carriage dresses, for the social rituals of fashionable parks. Of course if one was visiting the country the riding habit would be worn for morning rides.

Riding habits were normally made out of a sturdy material like wool, and consisted of a dress with a very simple bodice and a jacket which cover it at all times. The skirt of a riding dress was long and in order for it to drape over the ladies legs and protect her modesty while she rode side-saddle. Most riding habit jackets looked very simular to a military uniform with piping or embroidery and epaulettes.

Afternoon Dress Accessories
The finishing touches to the afternoon dress were the accessories.

Long hooded cloaks were always popular, as well as many different styles and decorated shawls. The shawls could vary from soft, heavy cashmere to light silk or muslin.

Another popular type of outerwear was the spencer. Spencers were high-waisted jackets worn over afternoon dresses. Another style of jacket was the pelisse. The pelisses were basically spencers with an attached skirt. They tended to provided more warmth than a spencer, because of their length, although some pelisses could be shorter ending at the knee.

Other afternoon dress accessories every young Regency lady would need were: gloves, muffs, bonnets, caps or hats, and of course appropriate footwear.

Shoes were made of thin, flat fabric such as silk or velvet or leather slippers were generally worn.

Evening Dress
For an important event, or special occasion evening dresses were required. One major difference between afternoon wear and evening wear was that in the evenings it was quite proper to show the top of one's bosom. Wide scoop necklines were popular for evening wear, as well as low squared necklines and low bodices cut straight across.

Richer light fabric were normally favoured for evening dresses such as fine muslin, silk satin, duchesse silk and light taffetas. Young ladies or debutantes were expected to wear pastels and white, while the older or more sophisticated lady would wear darker colours, and sometime their dresses might have been made of silk velvet.

Short sleeves were often worn with evening dress, however long gloves were a must. During the evening most ladies wore either, cloaks, capes or shawls.

The Wedding Dress
Not all Regency brides wore white for their wedding gown they did however wear pale colours which were favoured at the time. Most wedding gowns were an elegant evening gown which they could wear again later rather than a one of gown for that occasion.

So for my heroine, I think I’ll go for a stylish evening gown, with short sleeves and lace trimmed v-neck.

Well that is my heroine dressed and ready to start her life as a young married woman to a man she doesn’t know and has no idea as to what lies before her.


Post a Comment